Steward Observatory

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Steward Observatory
Organization University of Arizona
Location Tucson, Arizona
Altitude 792 meters (2,598 ft)
Established 1916 (1916)
Steward Observatory
Mount Graham 10 m Submillimeter Telescope
1.8 m VATT
2 x 8.4 m Large Binocular Telescope
Catalina Station 1.6 m Kuiper Telescope
0.7 m Schmidt camera
Mount Lemmon 1.5 m NASA Telescope
1.0 m telescope
Kitt Peak ARO 12m Radio Telescope
2.3 m Bok Telescope
1.8 m Spacewatch telescope
0.9 m Spacewatch telescope
Mount Hopkins 6.5 m MMT

Steward Observatory is the research arm of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona (UA). Its offices is located on the UA campus in Tucson, Arizona (USA). Established in 1916 in a single building, it now operates, or is a partner in telescopes at five mountain-top locations in Arizona, one in New Mexico, and one in Chile. It has provided instruments for three different space telescopes and numerous terrestrial ones. Steward also has one of the few facilities in the world that can cast and figure the very large primary mirrors used in telescopes built in the past decade.


Steward Observatory was established in 1916 by its first director, Andrew Ellicott Douglass, and a $60,000 bequest made by Lavinia Steward in memory of her late husband Henry B. Steward. The original building in a field on the east side of campus was completed in 1923.


Steward Observatory manages three different observing locations in southern Arizona: Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO), Mount Lemmon Observatory, and Catalina Station on Mount Bigelow. It also operates telescopes at two additional important observatories: Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) and Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mount Hopkins. Steward is a partner in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III, which is located in New Mexico at Apache Point Observatory. Steward maintains a student observatory on Tumamoc Hill approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) west of the campus. The original observatory building in Tucson is used only for public outreach.

The Arizona Radio Observatory, a subsidiary of Steward Observatory, operates one telescope each at KPNO and MGIO.

Steward Observatory participates in three international projects. It is a full member in the twin Magellan Telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in northern Chile. It is also a member in two projects planned for same region: the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope, a next generation extremely large telescope. The Mirror Laboratory is fabricating and finishing the mirrors for both telescopes, and also made the two Magellan mirrors.

Research groups[edit]

Steward's Mirror Laboratory (SOML), located under the east side of Arizona Stadium, has pioneered new techniques of large mirror production, including spin-casting lightweight honeycomb mirrors in a rotating furnace, and stressed-lap polishing. The Mirror Laboratory completed the second mirror for the Large Binocular Telescope in September, 2005. The Mirror Lab is currently working on the 8.4 meter diameter primary/tertiary mirror for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and has started work on 2 of the 7 off-axis primary mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope.[1]

The Infrared Detector Laboratory built the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) instrument for the Hubble Space Telescope and the Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) instrument for the Spitzer Space Telescope. For the James Webb Space Telescope, Steward built the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and helped build the Mid-IR Instrument (MIRI). Both instruments have been delivered to NASA; launch is expected in 2017 or 2018.

Other groups include the Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics (CAAO), the Imaging Technology Laboratory (ITL), the Steward Observatory Radio Astronomy Laboratory (SORAL), and the Astrochemistry/Spectroscopy Laboratory.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mirror Castings, SOML, retrieved 2012-04-12 

External links[edit]