Steward Observatory


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Steward Observatory

(stew -erd) The observatory of the University of Arizona at Tucson, whose main instruments are at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, including a 2.3-meter reflector. A number of telescopes are under construction or at the design stage at the Steward Observatory. Of these, one of the most important is the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), due to become operational on Mount Graham, Arizona, in 2005. Equipped with twin 8.4-meter lightweight honeycomb mirrors sitting on the same mount and fitted with adaptive optics, the LBT will arguably be the most advanced groundbased telescope in the world. Its configuration will provide an effective aperture of 22 meters, enabling it to be used in the search for Earth-sized extrasolar planets. The Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory operates at the forefront of optical technology. It cast and polished the new 6.5-meter mirror that replaced the smaller mirrors of the Multiple Mirror Telescope, operated jointly by the University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The Steward Observatory has also participated in several current and planned NASA space observatories, for example by making components for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope.