Donald H. Menzel Professor of Astrophysics
Magellan Project, Las Campanas, Chile
Harvard University is a 20% partner in the Magellan Telescopes, a pair of 6.5 meter (diameter) reflectors at the Las Campanas Observatory, located at an altitude of 8000 feet on the fringe of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. These telescopes, completed in 2002 at a cost of $67.5 million, provide astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics with extraordinary opportunities to study astronomical objects that are not visible from the Northern Hemisphere. Gifts from Harvard alumni provided the resources for Harvard to join the Magellan Project. It is estimated that during the 2003-2004 academic year, Harvard astronomy faculty, staff and students traveled to Chile on nearly 30 trips, each averaging 5 nights at the observatory. Observing conditions at Las Campanas are excellent: the sky is dark, there are long stretches of clear weather, and the air is unusually stable, leading to very sharp images from the Magellan Telescopes. With about 140 nights of observing time each year, typically in four or five night blocks, Harvard faculty, post docs, and graduate students are frequent visitors to Chile.
Collaborating Institutions: The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington; the University of Arizona; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Michigan, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad de Chile.