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Discovery Channel Telescope control

The facilities and infrastructure for the Discovery Channel Telescope at a new site in Arizona, USA, are due for completion in 2011, with telescope control software written by Observatory Sciences Ltd. The Discovery Channel Telescope will be a powerful tool for many areas of modern astrophysics, from studies of the solar system to fundamental work in stellar, Galactic, and extragalactic astronomy. Located 40 miles outside Flagstaff, atop a cinder cone at a site known as Happy Jack, it will be among the most technically sophisticated ground-based telescopes of its size, with the work from OSL helping to deliver many of the advanced features which will optimise its performance. The 4.2m aperture telescope, built by Lowell Observatory in partnership with Discovery Communications, will be the fifth largest in the continental United States, and will complement Lowell’s four existing research telescopes sited east of Flagstaff, Arizona. The telescope is expected to be completed at a cost of $42 million, of which $6 million has been donated by John Hendricks – the founder and Chairman of Discovery Communications, a longstanding member of the Lowell Observatory Advisory Board, and an enthusiastic supporter of astronomy and space research. Projects for the Discovery Channel Telescope include a survey of Kuiper Belt objects orbiting the sun beyond Neptune, comprehensive studies of comets (which in turn contain clues to the origins of the solar system itself), and the formation and evolution of galaxies. The DCT, with its unique ability to switch rapidly between instruments at its Ritchey-Chretien focus, will allow Lowell astronomers and guest observers to carry out research difficult or impossible to do elsewhere. Lowell Observatory has a proud history of scientific findings, including the discovery of the redshift of galaxies in 1912 that led ultimately to the realisation that the universe is expanding, and the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Today, 20 astronomers use the Lowell facilities to conduct research in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science.

Software for Astronomy and Physics Projects