Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
|Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory|
CTIO and the Blanco Telescope
|Organization||National Optical Astronomy Observatory|
|Location||Coquimbo Region, Chile|
|Altitude||2,207 metres (7,241 ft)|
CTIO at NOAO
The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is an astronomical observatory located on Cerro Tololo in the Coquimbo Region of northern Chile, with additional facilities located on Cerro Pachón about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to the southeast. It is within the Coquimbo Region and approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of La Serena, where support facilities are located. The site was identified by a team of scientists from Chile and the United States in 1959, and it was selected in 1962. Construction began in 1963 and regular astronomical observations commenced in 1965. Construction of large buildings on Cerro Tololo ended with the completion of the Víctor M. Blanco Telescope in 1974, but smaller facilities have been built since then. Cerro Pachón is still under development, with two large telescopes inaugurated since 2000, and one in the early stages of construction.
The principal telescopes at CTIO are the 4 m Víctor M. Blanco Telescope, named after Puerto Rican astronomer Victor Manuel Blanco, and the 4.1 m Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope, which is situated on Cerro Pachón. Other telescopes on Cerro Tololo include the 1.5 m, 1.3 m, 1.0 m, and 0.9 m telescopes operated by the SMARTS consortium. CTIO also hosts other research projects, such as PROMPT, WHAM, and LCOGTN, providing a platform for access to the southern hemisphere for U.S. and world-wide scientific research.
CTIO is one of two observatories managed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the other being Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) near Tucson, Arizona. NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), which owns the property around the two peaks in Chile and at the headquarters in La Serena, Chile. AURA also operates the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Gemini Observatory. The 8.1 m (320 in) Gemini South Telescope located on Cerro Pachón is managed by AURA separately from CTIO for an international consortium. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the funding agency for NOAO.
The Small and Medium Research Telescope System (SMARTS) is a consortium formed in 2001 after NOAO announced it would no longer support anything smaller than two meters at CTIO. The member institutions of SMARTS now fund and manage observing time on four telescopes that fit that definition. Access has also been purchased by individual scientists. SMARTS contracts with NOAO to maintain the telescopes it controls at CTIO, and NOAO retains the right to 25% of the observing time, and Chilean scientists retain 10%. SMARTS began managing telescopes in 2003.
CTIOPI is the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory Parallax Investigation. It began in 1999 and uses two telescopes at Cerro Tololo, the SMARTS 1.5 m reflector and the SMARTS 0.9 m reflector. The purpose of CTIOPI is to discover nearby red, white, and brown dwarfs that lurk unidentified in the solar neighborhood. The goal is to discover 300 new southern star systems within 25 parsecs by determining trigonometric parallaxes accurate to 3 milliarcseconds.
- The 4.0 m (160 in) Victor M. Blanco Telescope (Blanco 4m) was completed in 1974 and is very similar to the Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope which was completed at KPNO in 1973. Testing of the telescope and instruments lasted until the beginning of 1976 when science operations began. The Blanco 4m is the only telescope on Cerro Tololo managed directly by NOAO.
- The 4.1 m (160 in) Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) is an optical and near-infrared telescope located on Cerro Pachón. It was dedicated in 2004 and is managed by NOAO for an international consortium of which NOAO is a partner.
- The 1.5 m (59 in) SMARTS 1.5-meter Telescope is a Cassegrain reflector on an equatorial mount. Regular observations began in 1968.
- The 1.3 m (51 in) SMARTS 1.3-meter Telescope is a Cassegrain reflector on an equatorial mount. It was built by M3 Engineering and Technology Corporation and used for the 2-micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS). It began operating in 1998 and was given to CTIO in 2001 after the survey was completed.
- The 1.0 m (39 in) SMARTS Yale Telescope is a closed-tube Cassegrain reflector built by Boller and Chivens. It was first installed in 1965 at the Bethany Observing Station of the Yale University Observatory. It was moved to CTIO in 1974. From 1998 to 2002, it was used by the Yale University-AURA-University of Lisbon-Ohio State University (YALO) consortium with a custom-built sensor. In 2004 it was integrated into SMARTS.
- The 0.9 m (35 in) SMARTS 0.9-meter Telescope is a closed-tube Cassegrain reflector. It was installed at CTIO in 1966.
- The 0.6 m (24 in) Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) South Telescope is a reflecting telescope built by Boller and Chivens. Installed in 1968 for the International Planetary Patrol Program, it was owned and operated by Lowell Observatory. At some point control shift to CTIO, which lasted until 1996, after which Lowell used the telescope intermittently. It was refurbished by SARA and put back into use in 2010. Observing time is shared between the members of the SARA consortium.
- The 0.61 m (24 in) Curtis-Schmidt Telescope is a Schmidt camera that was installed at CTIO in 1966. It was previously located at the University of Michigan's Portage Lake Observatory. It is currently used for the Michigan Orbital DEbris Survey Telescope (MODEST) project, which is part of NASA's program to detect and catalog orbital debris. Two-thirds of observing time was at the discretion of NOAO prior to 2001. From 1989 to 1995 it was used in part by the Calán/Tololo Survey.
- The Wisconsin H-Alpha Mapper (WHAM) is a custom-built 0.6 m (24 in) telescope used to study the warm ionized medium. In 2009, it was moved to CTIO from KPNO, where it operated from 1996 to 2008.
- A 0.5 m (20 in) reflecting telescope built by Officina Stellare of Italy was installed in 2010 as part of the Chilean Automatic Supernova Search (CHASE). The project is run by the Center for Excellence in Astrophysics and Associated Technologies (CATA) of the University of Chile Department of Astronomy. The telescope will also be part of Global Robotic-telescopes Intelligent Array (GLORIA). It is located in the building that previously housed the Millimeter-wave Telescope. The existing dome was replaced by a new clamshell-style dome as part of the project. CHASE has used the PROMPT telescopes for 10% of the time since 2009.
- The Panchromatic Robotic Optical Monitoring and Polarimetry Telescopes (PROMPT) installation consists of five 0.4 m (16 in) Ritchey-Chrétien reflectors built by RC Optical Systems. Each telescope is fitted with a filter and camera designed to observe gamma ray bursts at different wavelengths. When not observing an event, the telescopes are used remotely by public school students in North Carolina. Construction of six fully automated domes started in 2004 and the telescopes began operating in 2006. The status of a sixth telescope, originally planned to observe at near-infrared wavelengths, is unclear. The building for a seventh PROMPT telescope, a larger 0.8 m (31 in) unit, was completed in 2011.
- The Global Oscillations Network Group (GONG) deployed an observing station to study helioseismology in 1995.
- The 1.2 m (47 in) Millimeter-wave Telescope is a Cassegrain reflector with a primary mirror made of machined aluminum. It was installed at CTIO in 1982, and an identical telescope is located at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It was used for surveys of molecular clouds while at CTIO. In 2009 it was moved to the Chilean National Astronomical Observatory's campus on Cerro Calán near Santiago.
- A 0.41 m (16 in) telescope was transported to the summit on mules in 1961 to perform site testing. It was later installed in a dome at CTIO in 1965. Its dome was used by the Millimeter-wave Telescope beginning in 1982.
- A second 0.41 m (16 in) telescope was installed in 1965. It was removed at some point and the building was used for UCAC.
- A 0.2 m (7.9 in) astrograph was used by the USNO CCD Astrograph Catalog (UCAC) project from 1998 to 2001. It was located in one of the 16-inch telescope domes. After surveying the southern sky it was moved to United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station to complete its mission.
- The Southern H-Alpha Sky Survey Atlas (SHASSA) operated at CTIO from 1997 to 2006 in its own small dome, which was dubbed El Enano by the local staff. It was removed at the end of the project and donated to a school in La Serena.
- Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network is building three 1.0 m (39 in) telescopes at Cerro Tololo. Construction of the domes began in 2010 and was completed in 2011. The telescopes will be made available for scientific and educational use, and a set of smaller telescopes is planned.
- The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a 8.4 m (330 in) reflecting telescope under construction on Cerro Pachón. Construction began in 2011 and first light is expected in late 2015. It will be used for an astronomical survey similar to the 2MASS survey performed at CTIO. As with Gemini, the LSST will be managed separately from CTIO. . A smaller 1.4-meter support telescope for LSST will be built on an adjacent peak.
- A 1.6-meter telescope supporting the Korean Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet), led by the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), is currently under construction on Cerro Tololo.
- A 0.82-meter telescope called "T80-South" supporting the Southern Massive Astrophysical Panchromatic Survey (S-MAPS) project is scheduled to be built on Cerro Tololo. The S-MAPS project is also proposing to build a larger 2.55-meter telescope on Cerro Pachon.
|Asteroids discovered: 5|
|(87269) 2000 OO67||July 29, 2000|
|(87555) 2000 QB243||August 25, 2000|
|88611 Teharonhiawako||August 20, 2001|
|(134210) 2005 PQ21||August 9, 2005|
|(139775) 2001 QG298||August 19, 2001|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to CTIO.|
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- Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory Home Page
- SOAR Telescope Home Page
- Gemini Observatory Home Page
- Small and Moderate Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS)
- Coordinates for Observatories on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachon