AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 173 Instrumentation: Ground Based or Airbourne
Poster, Thursday, 9:20am-4:00pm, January 12, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[173.11] The Perkins Telescope in the 21st Century: An NSF PREST Project

K.A. Janes (Boston, Univ.), M.W. Buie (Lowell Obs.), A.S. Bosh (Boston Univ. and Lowell Obs.), D.P. Clemens, J.M. Jackson (Boston Univ.)

With the help of a grant under the NSF "Program for Research and Education with Small Telescopes (PREST)," Boston University and Lowell Observatory are engaged in a project to improve the performance of the 1.83-meter Perkins Telescope on Anderson Mesa near Flagstaff, Arizona. Our goal is to bring the Perkins Telescope into the 21st century, to create effective resources in support of the scientific and educational missions of our two institutions and the larger community. Over the past several years we have re-instrumented the telescope; two facility-class instruments, Mimir, a wide-field infrared imager, polarimeter and spectrometer and PRISM, an optical counterpart, are now in operation at the Perkins Telescope. The new instrumentation at the Perkins will give our partnership and visiting observers access to an important niche in "observation space" not readily available elsewhere. Wide-field polarimetry and imaging and multi-object low-resolution spectroscopy are now possible across the spectrum from the near uv to the thermal IR. We are well-placed for surveys and synoptic studies, ranging from monitoring polarization variations in blazars to mapping the galactic magnetic field to tracking Kuiper-belt objects. Our PREST project includes four components: Thermal management to improve the seeing at the telescope, upgrades to the instrumentation, productivity enhancements to the facility, and integration of the Boston University access to the telescope into our graduate and undergraduate educational programs. In the first year of the PREST grant we have set up a visitor program (see www.lowell.edu/VisitingObservers/), established a graduate-student-in-residence program, installed fans and ductwork around the telescope and dome to improve seeing, and completed a student-led project to construct an innovative grism for optical spectroscopy based on a volume-phase holographic grating.

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