AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 35 HAD II: Observatories, Toys and Genesis
Oral, Monday, January 10, 2005, 10:00-11:30am, Pacific Salon 1

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[35.01] The Early History of the Apache Point Observatory

G. Wallerstein (University of Washington)

In this oral paper I will describe the efforts I made to fund and organize a major optical telescope. The story starts with my visit to a potential contributor in November 1964 within a month after I had accepted the appointment as chairman of the Astronomy Departemnt of the University of Washington. A number of unsuccessfull efforts to find private money or to find partners will be described as well as the unexpected testimentary contribution by Mr Alex Kane of Ashland Oregon in 1975. With a significant sum in hand it became possible to search for partners so as to maximize the telescope size and to find a site with favorable weather. After a number of unsuccessfull efforts to find partners and additional funds a series of very lucky events led to the formation of the Astrophysical Research Consortium consisting of the universities of Washington, Washington State, New Mexico State, Princeton and Chicago. With the organization in place by 1984 design and construction of the Apache Point Observatory very close to the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, commenced with the 3.5-m telescope as its primary instrument. The observatory was dedicated during an annular eclipse on 10 May, 1994, 30 years after the program was initiated.

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