The Role of Small Telescopes in Modern Astronomy, October 14-15, 1996, Lowell Observatory

McDonald Observatory: Two Niches for Small Telescopes

Thomas G. Barnes III
McDonald Observatory, The University of Texas at Austin

This paper addresses the role of small telescopes at McDonald Observatory. Given availability of 9.2-m , 2.7-m and 2.1-m telescopes at McDonald, demand for our 91-cm and 76-cm telescopes had declined. In addition, the decision to devote our reduced resources to the larger telescopes affected the role of the smaller ones.

The implications seemed clear to us: only do science on the smaller telescopes which is not possible on the larger telescopes and minimize the demand for resources from the smaller telescopes.

The 91-cm telescope has accordingly been restricted to photoelectric photometry on programs which involve coordinated observing with other McDonald telescopes, simultaneous observing with satellites or other observatories, multiple-week observing runs and target of opportunity programs.

The 76-cm telescope has been dedicated to a prime focus CCD camera. This f/3 camera has a field of view 46.5 arcminutes square and an R limit (3 sigma) of 22 mag. With autoguiding from an auxiliary telescope and a servo-controlled focus, the telescope is ideal for wide field imaging, synoptic and survey programs, and solar system astrometry.

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