The Mount Evans Observatory -- Site Survey Update

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Session 26 -- Detectors and Telescopes
Display presentation, Tuesday, 31, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[26.07] The Mount Evans Observatory -- Site Survey Update

J.Mack, R.E.Stencel, D.Klebe, P.Sullivan, C.Dirks, J.Williams (U.Denver), G.Emerson (Emerson Enterprises), E.Meyer (The Meyer Foundation)

The Astronomical Almanac lists Mt.Evans Observatory as the world's highest (Georgetown, Colorado, elev. 4,313 meters). We report on site observations conducted since our initial report (1993 Bull.A.A.S. 24:1240). Evidence will be provided that the site is competitive with the best, currently operational optical-infrared sites. The elevation difference between Denver and the summit is 9,000 feet, which strongly reduces the scattered light contribution to sky brightness. Astronomical seeing tests, as well as regional cloud cover statistics will be presented. The mid-continental location and elevation are responsible for minimal amounts of precipital water vapor (directly measured at 0.8mm in 1993 Sept. and estimated from observed temperature, pressure and relative humidity at the site to be even lower in winter months), giving the Mt.Evans site excellent infrared transparency. Three years of automated weather station data from the summit show the daily and annual temperature variations to be far from extreme, and the average wind field peaks daily at 20 knots out of the west. The treeless summit topography is favorable for laminar flow, which enhances optical/infrared image quality. Because Mt. Evans offers a potentially superior observatory site, we will also address the possiblities for future telescope development. The summit is easily accessible via a paved State Highway, and the unobstructed line of sight to the DU campus enhances the possibilities for remote operations. We are grateful to the estate of William Herschel Womble for providing funds in support of this investigation.

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