AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 82. A Stellar and Variable Star Melange
Display, Thursday, June 3, 1999, 9:20am-4:00pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[82.04] Nearby Stars Survey: The Southern Parallax Survey Telescope

P. Seitzer (U Mich), P.A. Ianna (UVa), D.G. Monet (USNO), T.J. Henry (CfA), C.C. Dahn (USNO), R.A. Mendez (CTIO)

Current catalogs of nearby stars are incomplete at least at the 50% level, and over 60% incomplete in the south. Estimates are that there are 1500 or more stars within 25 pc without measured distances, the majority in the southern hemisphere. We propose to construct a dedicated 2.4-m telescope to produce a complete sample of all stars within 25 pc of the Sun. This sample would then be one of the main target lists for SIRTF, SIM, and TPF: all NASA projects aimed at finding planets or protoplanets around nearby stars.

Typical distance determinations using parallax programs on shared telescopes produce a few tens of parallaxes per year - a dedicated telescope would produce hundreds per year. A dedicated telescope is the only way to complete the census of nearby stars in a finite amount of time: parallax determinations are very time consuming observations but are absoulutely essential to a full knowledge of our local stellar neighborhood.

We would like to place the telescope at CTIO, and the parallax survey would run for 5 years. The telescope would be based on the very successful 2.4-m Hiltner telescope at the MDM Observatory, for which construction drawings already exist. Only the most essential changes and modernization would be done in order to keep the cost low. There would be a single instrument - initially a direct imaging CCD, to be followed by an IR camera for observing the coolest and reddest nearby stars.

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