During our general meeting on Monday, March 18th, weather at the telescope permitting, we will receive a tour of the Discovery Channel Telescope and its control room, conducted live via video teleconference, as the DCT team prepares for and begins to conduct an observing session. Our hosts will be Kevin Covey and Lowell Astronomer and Deputy Director of Technology Stephen Levine.
The night's observations will likely include several targets associated with existing LARI programs, including a dwarf irregular galaxy in the LITTLE THINGS Survey and a highly variable young star that Kevin is studying. If these observations are successful, RCA members will be invited to participate in processing and analyzing this imaging data.
In the unfortunate event that the weather doesn't cooperate, some portions or all of this program could be canceled or rescheduled. Snow at the telescope is still fairly likely at the time of our meeting and the road to the telescope may be impassible.
Lowell Observatory partnered with Discovery Communications to build the $53 million DCT, which will be utilized by astronomers at Lowell and several partner institutions, including Boston University, the University of Maryland/Goddard Space Flight Center, and the University of Toledo.
The DCT will take observations both in optical and near-infrared wavelengths. Planned projects for the new telescope include a spectroscopic survey of Kuiper Belt objects, comet observations, and a study of the relationship between mass and luminosity in the youngest, most massive stars.
The DCT will be used to study a broad range of topics, extending from objects in our own solar system to the large-scale structure of the universe. The Kuiper Spectral Survey will utilize the LMI and NIHTS to characterize hundreds of Kuiper Belt objects. The LITTLE THINGS Survey is scrutinizing 41 nearby dwarf irregular galaxies to understand how star formation proceeds in the smallest galaxies. Lowell Research Astronomer and RCA member Kevin Covey will use the DCT to study the formation and evolution of low-mass stars, and the planetary systems they may host.