Students gain access to world-class telescope in New Mexico

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Colgate students will have the opportunity to get closer to the stars thanks to a three-year arrangement that provides them with valuable access to a world-class telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.

In addition to site visits, students and faculty also will be able to control the telescope remotely from computers at Colgate.

The arrangement to lease time on the 3.5-meter Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) telescope was managed by Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Bary is the lead scientist of the Northeast Astronomy Participation Group, whose schools also will share time on the telescope. In addition to Colgate, the group includes Williams, Haverford, Middlebury, Bucknell, and Hobart and William Smith.

“By leasing time on a moderate aperture telescope like the ARC telescope at APO, Colgate is guaranteeing our students the chance to use world-class facilities at a time when such opportunities are becoming increasingly difficult to come by,” explained Bary.

Over the summer, two Colgate students and two NSF-funded Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium research fellows (Angelica Rivera,Vassar and Trevor Dorn-Wallenstein, Wesleyan) traveled to New Mexico to conduct research with Bary on the ARC telescope.

They worked at night to collect infrared spectra of giant stars viewed through an intervening dense cloud of gas and dust, which represents the earliest stage of star formation.

“I was continually amazed by everything I got to see and do,” Carolyn Morris ’17 said of the trip. “It was one of the most eye-opening and valuable weeks of my life.”

Greg Zengilowski ’15 used the telescope in person, and then collected data remotely back on campus as part of his research with Bary.

“The telescope is truly important because it gives students and faculty an incredible tool with which we can do a lot of interesting science,” Zengilowski said.