The RAO began as a twinkle in the eye of Sandy R. Cross, a local rancher from a Calgary pioneering family. His generosity began with an initial gift of a quarter section of land, continued with two block grants to permit the construction of a building to house a 1.5-m telescope in 1981, and, finally, funding of a joint operation with ARC to complete the figuring of a honeycomb 1.8-m mirror. The summer of 1996 saw the completion of the 1.8-m replacement and the restoration of all instrumental facilities formerly in use on the 1.5-m telescope. NSERC of Canada provided the funding for the 1.8-m mounting, and for infrastructure grants to assist development and instrumentation; the University of Calgary has provided site support and development and the Department of Physics and Astronomy the operating funds and technical salary support to maintain the facility. The RAO was formally opened by Margaret Burbidge in 1972, and the IRT (now named the A.R. Cross Telescope) was dedicated by George Coyne and Harlan Smith in 1987. In addition to the history, in which we describe the parlay of a leased 1.5-m metal mirror into a million dollar facility, we will highlight the RAO astronomical innovations, which include the development of the Rapid Alternate Detection System and the use of an alt-alt mounting for the 1.8-m telescope, and observational accomplishments and plans for the future.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 1996