The University of Wyoming's
telescope is getting a makeover for its 30th birthday.
The National Science Foundation has granted more than $400,000 to UW to replace
aging hardware that controls the 2.3-meter telescope, which is housed at the
Wyoming Infrared Observatory (WIRO) on Jelm Mountain, about 35 miles west of
The UW Research Office is contributing an additional $100,000 for upgrades
at the observatory.
"This is a crucial step toward moving our telescope into the 21st century,"
says UW Astronomy Professor and WIRO Director Daniel Dale.
The upgrades are also welcome news to John A. Hackwell, who teamed with Bob
Gehrz while both were on faculty at UW to lead construction efforts for the
"It is very heartening to hear the University of Wyoming and the National Science
Foundation are still strongly committed to the WIRO telescope," says Hackwell,
who now works at The Aerospace Corporation, which provides objective technical
analyses and assessments for space programs that serve the national interest.
"The state of the art in control systems and computers has advanced by leaps
and bounds in the 30 years since the telescope was built. These upgrades will
make the telescope into a first-rate facility."
The makeover process should be completed by next summer, says Chip Kobulnicky,
a UW professor of astronomy and the project's lead designer.
The telescope will be equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and computers
that will allow astronomers to point the telescope to astronomical targets with
an accuracy of better than 1/100,000th of a degree.
"We'll be able to point the telescope with an accuracy that would locate a
dime at the distance of the moon," raves Kobulnicky.
UW Astronomy Professor Mike Brotherton assisted Kobulnicky in the grant process.
The telescope is fully owned and operated by UW.