WIYN Observatory

The WIYN 0.9m Observatory supports the current and future research and education needs of its scientists by operating and maintaining the 0.9m facility at its highest standards. The 0.9m Observatory strives to develop opportunities to enable frontier astrophysical research. Having a research grade facility available to the graduate and undergraduate students, alike, enables students to connect directly with science.

About the WIYN 0.9m

In 2001 the WIYN Consortium, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Indiana University, assumed operational responsibility for the historic 0.9-meter (36-inch) telescope at the National Science Foundation's Kitt Peak National Observatory. As part of acquisition, the consortium chose to upgrade the control system, install new motors and encoders in all axes, for a state of the art observing facility.

The name of the telescope (the 0.9-meter) reflects the size of the primary mirror. The 0.9m is a Cassegrain telescope with a focal ratio of 7.5. In Spring of 2014 we received a new, state-of-the-art imager called the Half Degree Imager (HDI). HDI is a single chip, multi-amplifier imager with a field of view of 29 arcmin - over double the sky coverage of the old imager. Using all 4 amplifiers, image overhead is a mere 15 seconds, with 5e- of read noise. HDI has closed cycle cooling, so liquid nitrogen and dewar fills are a thing of the past. Despite its relatively small aperture, the 0.9m is a popular telescope because of its large field of view.

When most people imagine astronomers at work, they envision someone sitting in a dome looking through an eyepiece on a telescope. The reality is actually very different. Rather than look through an eyepiece, astronomers use sensitive electronic CCD cameras. Instead of sitting beneath the telescope in a freezing cold dome, they reside in a warm control room in front of computers which control the telescope and the camera. The telescope itself resides on the second floor of the building. It is enclosed in a dome to protect it from wind, rain and snow. Eleven dome vents were installed in August 1994 to increase airflow through the dome, which has significantly improved the image quality.

0.9m History

The first major astronomical facility of the National Observatory was the No. 1 36-inch, which became operational in March 1960. Since then, the telescope has been used for a wealth of spectroscopic, photographic, and photometric programs.

A CCD camera was installed in 1984, and quickly became the instrument of choice for observers doing deep, wide-field imaging and photometry.

The No. 2 36-inch telescope became operational in 1966 (shortly after the 84-inch was commissioned), and has primarily been used for photoelectric photometry.

During the summer of 1990 the site of the No. 1 was cleared for use by the 3.5-m WIYN telescope, and a single 0.9m facility was made using the best of both telescopes; the old No. 1 telescope is housed in the old No. 2 dome. At that time, operation of the telescope was moved to a control room located downstairs, in order to remove heat-sources from the telescope area, and in order to provide a more comfortable and efficient observing environment.

In 2001 the WIYN Consortium took over operations of the 0.9m telescope. Upgrading the control system and installing new motors and encoders in all axes was performed by Astronomical Consultants and Equipment, Inc.

0.9m Partners

The WIYN 0.9m Consortium is comprised of several different partners, each with a share of telescope time.

Visiting the 0.9m

The WIYN 0.9m is not open to the public. However, the visitor's center does offer daily tours of other telescopes on Kitt Peak. For more information on visiting Kitt Peak National Obseratory see the Kitt Peak Visitor's Center web site.

Last modified: 20-Jul-2022 09:43:35 MST