Staffer’s Article Published in Sky & Telescope

Story Describes New Research Telescope in Arizona

Engineers and technicians are putting the finishing touches on Lowell Observatory’s new Discovery Channel Telescope, which sits on top of an ancient cinder cone in Happy Jack, Ariz., at an elevation of 7,760 feet above sea level.

Engineers and technicians are putting the finishing touches on Lowell Observatory’s new Discovery Channel Telescope, which sits on top of an ancient cinder cone in Happy Jack, Ariz., at an elevation of 7,760 feet above sea level.

01/13/2012


A feature article written by a UMass Lowell staff member about a brand-new telescope that is nearing completion near Flagstaff, Ariz., is featured in the latest issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.

Edwin Aguirre, the science and technology writer in UMass Lowell’s Office of Public Affairs, co-authored the six-page article on the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) in the February issue with his wife, Imelda Joson. 

The $53 million state-of-the-art telescope, which is designed to combine scientific research with public educational outreach, is a joint project between Lowell Observatory and the Discovery Channel. 

Lowell Observatory is a private, non-profit research institution based in Flagstaff that was founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell, a wealthy astronomer from Boston. The Discovery Channel, a satellite and cable TV network with headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., produces such popular shows as “Myth Busters,” “American Chopper,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Shark Week” and “Dirty Jobs.” 

The DCT is intended to push the frontier of knowledge and bring the excitement of exploration to millions of viewers around the world. The telescope’s “first light” — or first observation — is scheduled to take place this May. 

With a primary mirror measuring 4.3 meters (14 feet) in diameter, the DCT will become the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States. If the giant telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii’s Big Island are included, it becomes the ninth largest.

From Comets to Dwarf Galaxies

“Lowell astronomers will use the DCT to explore the outer solar system, characterize the nature of comets, study planets around other stars and examine star formation and evolution in the Milky Way and other nearby galaxies, among numerous other projects,” says Lowell Observatory Director Jeffrey Hall, who gave Aguirre and Joson a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the facility in Happy Jack, Ariz., during the couple’s visit last year.

The Discovery Channel will bring these new astronomical discoveries to more than 400 million households in more than 200 countries through its on-air and online programming.

To see more photos of the DCT taken by Aguirre and Joson, visit the UMass Lowell Photo Gallery

You can also read their full interview with Hall on Sky & Telescope’s website. Sky & Telescope, a Cambridge-based monthly astronomy magazine founded in 1941, has a worldwide circulation of about 100,000.