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Dr. Pierre Martin, new Director of the WIYN Observatory

Dr. Pierre Martin, new Director of the WIYN Observatory


Exterior of the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope

Exterior of the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope


Interior of the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope

Interior of the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope

Image Credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF

Astronomer Pierre Martin, director of science operations at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), has been selected as the new director of the WIYN Observatory, which operates 3.5-meter and 0.9-meter telescopes on Kitt Peak.

Starting September 22, Martin succeeds George Jacoby, who will return to the scientific staff of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), which shares office space with WIYN in Tucson, Arizona. NOAO is the “N” in the WIYN partnership, which includes the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University and Yale University.

“We’re delighted to have Pierre on board. He brings outstanding experience from CFHT and great energy and enthusiasm for what we all hope to do at WIYN,” says Charles Bailyn of Yale University, chair of the WIYN Board of Directors.

“The WIYN board, on behalf of the entire consortium, expresses its sincere gratitude for the contributions of George Jacoby since he became director in 2000,” Bailyn adds. “George has led a talented team that has produced some of the best on-sky performance statistics of any telescope in the world, and he persuaded the partnership to embark on the most ambitious instrumentation project ever attempted by a 4-meter class facility, the One Degree Imager. George has set an imposing standard for those who will follow.”

“The WIYN consortium offers a modern 3.5-meter telescope with the capability of conducting world-class astrophysical research on a daily basis and a smaller wide-field telescope that is excellent for complementary observations and student training,” Martin says. “I am honored to have been selected for this challenging but quite exciting position.”

During his 11 years at CFHT, Martin has been the support scientist for several instruments and currently serves as the manager of the astronomy group as well as the project scientist/manager for the queue-observing scheme. This mode, developed to optimize observing efficiency, science productivity and data quality, is now the only operational mode for the wide-field imaging and spectroscopy capabilities at CFHT.

“Innovative observing modes are one key to the success of modern observatories—they offer scientists reliable, efficient and new possibilities for data acquisition, and they increase the value of the resulting data products,” Martin says.

Martin earned his PhD. in astrophysics at the Université Laval (Quebec City) in 1992. He then spent three years as a post-doc at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory in Tucson, followed by a two-year fellowship with the ESO New Technology Telescope in Chile. Martin’s scientific interests include the chemical evolution of spiral galaxies, massive star formation, morphology and dynamics of barred spiral galaxies, galactic Cepheid variables, and planetary nebulae.

Martin, age 44, was born in St-Alexis de Matapédia, a small village in the eastern part of the Province of Québec. He is married to Patricia E. Pérez, a PhD. graduate of the University of Arizona, and his hobbies include music, drumming and history.

A photo of Martin is available above.

The WIYN 3.5-meter telescope offers a large suite of instruments, the latest being a high-resolution infrared imager called WHIRC. A new one-gigapixel camera for wide-field imaging in visible light, called the One Degree Imager (ODI), is under development. The future flagship instrument for WIYN, ODI will include an ensemble of 64 Orthogonal Transfer Array (OTA) CCD detectors, which can be used for active compensation of image motion due to atmospheric turbulence. With its exquisite image quality and wide-field of view (one square degree equals an area of sky four times bigger than the full Moon), ODI will provide superb possibilities to conduct diversified scientific programs, Martin says.

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.