AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 145. Astronomical Instruments and Analytical Tools
Oral, Thursday, January 10, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, Georgetown West

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[145.01] The Productivity of Ground-Based Optical Telescopes of Various Apertures

H. A. Abt (Kitt Peak National Observatory)

We scanned the papers published in the first quarter of 1996 in A&A, AJ, ApJ, Icarus, and MNRAS and counted those that were partly or fully based on new observations from optical ground-based telescopes. We found that 82% of the papers came from telescopes with apertures <4 meters. Then we counted citations since 1996 to those papers and found that 75% of the citations were to those papers from telescopes <4 meters. Dividing these two similar distributions shows that the average citations per paper are a linear function of aperture but with a small slope, e.g. papers from telescopes of 5-10 meters average only twice as many citations as papers from telescopes of 1-2 meters. Finally we counted papers in the first quarter of 2001 in the same journals and found that 79% of the papers came from telescopes <4 meters in aperture. These numbers tell us that the bulk of our astronomical papers and of the most important results come from telescopes <4 meters. That situation is likely to continue throughout this decade. Therefore the failure of the decadal survey to emphasize the dominant importance of small telescopes and make recommendations for their improvement shows that that panel did not assess realistically the sources of contemporary optical ground-based results.

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

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