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NOAO Newsletter - KPNO Operations - September 2000 - Number 63


Time of Many Changes

Richard Green

Phil Massey will be leaving Kitt Peak and NOAO at the end of September to take up an astronomer position at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. Phil joined KPNO in 1984, and has filled an invaluable role as 4-meter Telescope Scientist. His attention to the full range of performance issues for the telescope, including the extraordinarily important details of interfaces, guiders, and GUIs, has been critical in maintaining the scientific data quality. The telescope engineering and operations teams respect Phil enormously for his exacting standards and his clear priorities that operational performance be only enhanced and not jeopardized. We were also kept on our toes by "astronomer in residence" reports by Phil originating not from Kitt Peak, but from other observatories. The comparisons showed us the way to several improvements in operations. Phil's critical look at operations investments in general formed the basis for spirited scientific staff discussions and honest assessments of our priorities. Those of us who have benefited over the years from Phil's dedication to the telescope and to the observatory are grateful for the outcome, and his impact on our science.

We are still trying to regain our operational equilibrium following the retirements of three of KPNO's core team: Bob Barnes, Jim De Veny, and Bill Schoening. Bob joined Kitt Peak in 1963, Jim in 1967, and Bill in 1968. From beginnings as telescope operators, and research and laboratory assistants, they each developed indispensable expertise and knowledge of the instrument suite and observatory operations. As an observer, you know the confidence you felt when Jim would set up the spectrograph for you, or Bill got you going with CCD imaging. I have been extremely fortunate as Kitt Peak Director to enjoy that same degree of confidence that the KPNO finances and resource tracking were in Bob Barnes' expert hands. We are fortunate that Jim and Bill will continue to be available on a part-time basis. These three epitomize the skill and dedication that made Kitt Peak premier in scientific productivity. On behalf of generations of observers, I offer thanks and well wishes for active and enjoyable retirement.

With George Jacoby (see "New Director for WIYN") and Phil Massey turning to other positions, there are major responsibilities at Kitt Peak to be filled. The task of watching over the 4-meter will be divided between Steve Ridgway as Telescope Scientist and Nigel Sharp as Operations Scientist. Steve will concentrate on system performance, delivered image quality, and upgrade planning, while Nigel will monitor day-to-day issues and focus on instru-ment and other focal plane interfaces and software. Chuck Claver will retain his responsibility for mountain-wide delivered image quality and hands-on optical alignment. Buell Jannuzi will take over from George as Mosaic Instrument Scientist; George continued in that capacity through completion of this summer's upgrades. To assure both organization and continuing scientific usefulness of the Kitt Peak filter collection, Bruce Bohannan has agreed to take on the job of Filter Scientist. The eight-day weeks prevailing throughout NOAO facilitate the staff taking on these additional responsibilities.


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