SAO Discussing Telescope Partnership with UNAM
Thursday, June 2, 2016
News Feature

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is holding discussions with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) on a new 6.5-meter optical/near-infrared telescope to be built at San Pedro Martir. Partners would include SAO, Steward Observatory in Arizona, UNAM and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica Optica y Electronica. A draft Memorandum of Understanding was written last fall.

Currently San Pedro Martir is home to El Observatorio Astronomico Nacional, the national observatory complex of Mexico, in Baja California state. The weather and atmospheric conditions at the site are the best in North America (not counting Mauna Kea in Hawaii). It provides better sky conditions and less light pollution than at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, where SAO and Steward partner to operate the MMT Telescope.

SAO's role in the Telescopio San Pedro Martir (STPM) would be to provide instruments, some of which currently move between Mt. Hopkins and Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The scientific goals for the telescope are to study the formation of the universe and the origin of stars and planetary systems.

The telescope mirror has been cast at the Mirror Facility at Steward Observatory and is being polished now. First light is anticipated in 2022.