Harlan J. Smith Telescope

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Harlan J. Smith Telescope
USA harlan j smith telescope TX.jpg
Named afterHarlan James Smith Edit this on Wikidata
Part ofMcDonald Observatory Edit this on Wikidata
Location(s)Jeff Davis County, Texas
Coordinates30°40′18″N 104°01′19″W / 30.6718°N 104.022°W / 30.6718; -104.022Coordinates: 30°40′18″N 104°01′19″W / 30.6718°N 104.022°W / 30.6718; -104.022 Edit this at Wikidata
Telescope styleoptical telescope Edit this on Wikidata
Diameter107 in (2.7 m) Edit this at Wikidata
Websitemcdonaldobservatory.org/research/telescopes/HJSmith Edit this at Wikidata
Harlan J. Smith Telescope is located in the United States
Harlan J. Smith Telescope
Location of Harlan J. Smith Telescope
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Dome at dusk
The 2.7-meter Harlan J. Smith Telescope of the McDonald Observatory (US) is used to point a laser beam to a reflector stationed on the surface of the moon.

The Harlan J. Smith Telescope is a 107-inch (2.7 m) telescope located at the McDonald Observatory, in Texas, in the United States. This telescope is one of several research telescopes that are part of the University of Texas at Austin observatory perched on Mount Locke in the Davis Mountains of west Texas. The telescope was completed in 1968 with substantial NASA assistance, and is named after Harlan James Smith, the first Texas director of McDonald Observatory. Smith was the Observatory Director for 26 years.

Vandalism damage[edit]

The telescope was the victim of an act of vandalism in February 1970. A newly hired worker suffered a mental breakdown and brought a hand gun into the observatory. After firing one shot at his supervisor, the worker then fired the remaining rounds into the Primary Mirror. The holes effectively reduced the 107-inch (2.7 m) telescope to the equivalent of a 106-inch telescope (or about 2.5 centimeters less), but did not affect the quality of the telescope's images, only the amount of light it can collect.[1][2]


The telescope has been used to observe many things. Some achievements includes the stars BD +17° 3248 and XO-1.

Jorge Meléndez of the Australian National University and Iván Ramírez of the University of Texas discovered the star HIP 56948 in 2007 using the Harlan J. Smith telescope at McDonald Observatory.[3]

The Visible Integral-field Replicable Unit Spectrograph-W (VIRUS-W) (an integral field spectrograph) was used to find in 2021 that the Leo 1 dwarf galaxy contains a super massive black hole.[4]

Contemporaries on commissioning[edit]

Four largest telescopes 1968:

# Name /
Image Aperture Altitude First
Special advocate
1 Hale Telescope
Palomar Obs.
P200 Dome Open.jpg 200 inch
508 cm
1713 m
(5620 ft)
1949 Edwin Hubble
2 C. Donald Shane telescope
Lick Observatory
Shane dome.JPG 120 inch
305 cm
1283 m
(4209 ft)
1959 Nicholas Mayall
C. Donald Shane
3 Harlan J. Smith Telescope
McDonald Observatory
107-inch at dusk.JPG 107 in
270 cm
2070 m
(6791 ft)
1968 Harlan J. Smith
4 Shajn 2.6m (Crimean 102 inch)
Crimean Astrophysical Obs.
102 in
260 cm
600 m
(1969 ft) [5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy & Spaceflight home page - Accessed 28 March 2006
  2. ^ REPORT ON THE 2.7-METER REFLECTOR. Accessed 31 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Astrobio.net". Archived from the original on 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  4. ^ A Nearby Dwarf Galaxy has a Surprisingly Massive Black Hole in its Heart
  5. ^ "Crimean Astrophysical Observatory (Archived copy)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-01-13.