AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 47 Robotic Astronomical Observatories
Topical Associated Poster, Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 10:00am-6:45pm, West Exhibit Hall

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[47.04] The refurbished 1.3-m Robotically Controlled Telescope at Kitt Peak

R. Gelderman (WKU), E. Guinan (Villanova), S. Howell (PSI), J.R. Mattox (FMU), C.H. McGruder (WKU), D.K. Walter (SCSU), D.R. Davis, M. Everett (PSI)

In 1999, the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) announced the opportunity to "assume responsibility for operation of the Kitt Peak 1.3-m telescope." A group of astronomers/educators from institutions across the USA successfully proposed to refurbish and automate the observatory and operate it as the Robotically Controlled Telescope (RCT). The RCT Consortium has been established between Francis Marion University, the Planetary Science Institute, South Carolina State University, Villanova University, and Western Kentucky University to oversee the refurbishment and automation, and operate the telescope to successfully achieve its research and education goals.

The RCT was commissioned in 1964 as the Remotely Controlled Telescope and utilized that epoch's computing and communication technology to provide unattended operation from NOAO headquarters in Tucson, about 90 km distant. The original incarnation of the RCT allowed astronomers to gain experience in the remote operation of observatories in order to both develop techniques for operating space-based telescopes and to increase the productivity of ground-based telescopes (Maran 1967 Science 158, 867). While these tests worked as well as could be expected given the technology of the time, the telescope and observatory were refitted in 1969 for classical, attended operations. The second life of the 1.3-m was as a heavily subscribed KPNO visitor facility, first with photoelectric photometers and later as an important testbed for the newest infrared instrumentation. In 1996 the telescope was removed from the list of available KPNO facilities and stood idle until the RCT Consortium hired EOS Technologies, Inc. to refurbish and automate the observatory. In winter 2003 most of the observatory systems have been refurbished and the commissioning has begun.

Refurbishment of the RCT has been made possible by NASA grant NAG58762.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://rct.kpno.noao.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: gelderman@wku.edu

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