AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 53. Star Clusters Near and Far, Old and Young
Display, Tuesday, June 1, 1999, 10:00am-7:00pm, Southeast Exhibit Hall

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[53.14] The Palomar-Las Campanas Observatory-NOAO (PLCON) Open Cluster Survey

R.L. Phelps (California State U., Sacramento)

Open clusters are unique laboratories for investigating a wide range of fundamental problems in astrophysics, yet only a fraction of the ~1200 cataloged open clusters have ever been observed photographically or photoelectrically, let alone observed with state-of-the-art CCD detectors. The potential wealth of knowledge obtainable from open clusters, therefore, remains largely untapped. For the first time, it is possible technologically to observe the majority of the known population of open clusters, thereby refining our knowledge of cluster parameters. The Palomar-Las Campanas Observatory-NOAO (PLCON) Open Cluster Survey represents the first step toward a systematic determination of fundamental parameters (e.g., reddenings, distances and ages) for the majority of the known open clusters in the Milky Way. Using a small number of semi-dedicated telescopes and detectors, CCD data for several hundred open clusters will be obtained, reduced and analyzed.

This paper will discuss the primary goals of this project, including: 1) identification of the Galaxy's population of the oldest open clusters; 2) updating the woefully out-of-date catalog information available for open clusters; 3) providing an open cluster database on the World Wide Web for use by the astronomical community; and 4) providing for undergraduate student research opportunities.

This research is sponsored, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

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