MMT...Before and After

The Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT) located on Mount Hopkins in Arizona has been updated in design to increase its observing power. When it was originally designed in the late 1970s, the telescope's array of six 1.8-meter mirrors was a radical departure from established telescope design and made MMT the third-largest optical instrument in the world. Now, the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution have replaced the original array with a single, lightweight 6.5-meter borosilicate honeycomb mirror. The telescope's light-collecting area is now 2.5 times larger and its field of view has been expanded by 15 times over the earlier configuration. This gives astronomers 200 times more sky to study in a single field. The new telescope will make use of adaptive optics to counteract atmospheric aberrations. Large optical-fiber-fed spectrographs will be able to measure hundreds of galaxies at a time. The $20 million redesign was spun cast and polished at the University of Arizona's Mirror Lab.



Published in the August 2000 issue of the NightTimes