AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 100 Research at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions
Special Session, Wednesday, January 7, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, Regency V

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[100.01] The SARA Consortium: Providing Undergraduate Access to a 0.9-m Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory

M. A. Wood (Florida Inst. of Technology / SARA)

The Southeastern Research for Astronomy (SARA) operates a 0.9-m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO). The member institutions are Florida Institute of Technology, East Tennessee State University, Florida International University, The University of Georgia at Athens, Valdosta State University, and Clemson University. The NSF awarded the KPNO #1 0.9-m telescope to the SARA Consortium in 1990. We built a new facility and began routine on-site observations in 1995. We began routine remote observations in 1999 using VNC to export the telescope and CCD control screens, and a web-cam in the dome to provide critical visual feedback on the status of the telescope and dome.

The mission of the SARA Consortium is to foster astronomical research and education in the Southeastern United States. Although only two of the member institutions have no graduate programs, all six have a strong emphasis on undergraduate research and education. By pooling our resources, we are able to operate a research-grade facility that none of the individual schools could manage by itself, and in the process we can offer our undergraduate students the opportunity to assist in our research projects as well as to complete their own independent research projects using a facility at a premier site.

The SARA Consortium also hosts a NSF REU Summer Intern Program in Astronomy, in which we support 11-12 students that work one-on-one with a SARA faculty mentor. Most of these interns are selected from primarily undergraduate institutions, and have not had significant previous research experience. As part of the program, interns and mentors travel to KPNO for a 4-5 night observing run at the telescope. The SARA NSF REU Program is funded through NSF grant AST-0097616.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.astro.fit.edu/sara-reu/index.html. 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.

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