Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) of the Carnegie Institution of Science has been operating in Chile for about 50 years, currently operating four main telescopes. Carnegie operates the two 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes on behalf of a partnership that includes a consortium of universities. The Magellan Telescopes were commissioned in 2000 and 2002 and offer the consortium users a suite of twelve instruments. In this paper we will first provide a brief description of the science, technical and administrative structure of the observatory. We will then present an updated review of the Magellan telescopes operations and maintenance. Details on status and performances of the instruments will be given. We will finally cover the operations of the duPont 2.5 meter and Swope 1 meter telescopes including the current and future collaboration with the two hemisphere surveys SDSS-IV and SDSS-V.
The f/5 instrumentation suite for the Clay telescope was developed to provide the Magellan Consortium observer community with wide field optical imaging and multislit NIR spectroscopy capability. The instrument suite consists of several major subsystems including two focal plane instruments. These instruments are Megacam and MMIRS. Megacam is a panoramic, square format CCD mosaic imager, 0.4° on a side. It is instrumented with a full set of Sloan filters. MMIRS is a multislit NIR spectrograph that operates in Y through K band and has long slit and imaging capability as well. These two instruments can operate both at Magellan and the MMT. Megacam requires a wide field refractive corrector and a Topbox to support shutter and filter selection functions, as well as to perform wavefront sensing for primary mirror figure correction. Both the corrector and Topbox designs were modeled on previous designs for MMT, however features of the Magellan telescope required considerable revision of these designs. In this paper we discuss the optomechanical, electrical, software and structural design of these subsystems, as well as operational considerations that attended delivery of the instrument suite to first light.
The Magellan Baade and Clay telescopes regularly produce images of ~0.5" in natural seeing. We review efforts to
improve collimation, active optics response, and telescope guiding and pointing to optimize the performance of the
telescopes. Procedures have been developed to monitor and analyze image quality delivered by the imaging science
instruments. Improved models have been developed to correct for flexure of the telescope and primary mirror under
gravity loading. Collimation has been improved using a "two-probe" Shack-Hartman technique to measure field
aberrations. Field acquisition performance has been improved by implementing an open loop model for the primary
mirror control. Telescope pointing has been improved by regular monitoring and adjustments to improve acquisition
The Carnegie Institution operates the twin 6.5m Magellan Telescopes on behalf of the Magellan consortium (Carnegie
Institution of Washington, Harvard University, the University of Arizona, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the
University of Michigan). The two telescopes have been in routine operations at the Las Campanas Observatory since
2001 and 2002 respectively. We currently operate with a suite of instruments available at 6 active ports during regular
night-time science operations. Here, we briefly describe the capabilities, operation, and performance of the suite of
commissioned instruments including MagIC, PANIC, MIKE, MIKE-Fibers, LDSS3, IMACS, and MagE. Beyond the
instruments that are presently installed on site, we will also introduce the large number of instruments that are in
advanced stages of construction by teams throughout our consortium (FIRE, Four-Star, MegaCam, MMIRS, PFS,
The twin 6.5m Magellan Telescopes have been in routine operations at the Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean
Andes since 2001 and 2002 respectively. The telescopes are owned and operated by Carnegie for the benefit of the
Magellan consortium members (Carnegie Institution of Washington, Harvard University, the University of Arizona,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Michigan). This paper provides an up to date review of the
scientific, technical, and administrative structure of the 'Magellan Model' for observatory operations. With a modest
operations budget and a reasonably small staff, the observatory is operated in the "classical" mode, wherein the visiting
observer is a key member of the operations team. Under this model, all instrumentation is supplied entirely by the
consortium members and the various instrument teams continue to play a critical support role beyond initial deployment
and commissioning activities. Here, we present a critical analysis of the Magellan operations model and suggest lessons
learned and changes implemented as we continue to evolve an organizational structure that can efficiently deliver a high
scientific return for the investment of the partners.
The Magellan Observatory consists of two 6.5 m telescopes located at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The Magellan partner institutions are the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Harvard University, the University of Arizona, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Michigan. The telescopes are owned and operated by Carnegie for the benefit of the consortium members. This paper provides an overview of the scientific, technical, and administrative structure of the observatory operations. A technical staff of ~23 FTEs provides on-site support of the telescopes. This group is augmented by ~3 FTEs at the Carnegie Observatories headquarters in Pasadena who concentrate mostly on upgrades or modifications to the telescopes. The observatory is operated in the "classical" mode, wherein the visiting observer is a key member of the operations team. Instrumentation is supplied entirely by the consortium members, who continue to provide significant support after instrument commissioning. An analysis of the successfulness of this model over the first five years of operation is presented.
Bigelow & Dressler1 reported on the design and construction of IMACS - the Inamori-Magellan Areal Camera and Spectrograph. IMACS was installed on the Magellan-Baade 6.5-m telescope at the Carnegie Institution's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile in August, 2003, and was phased into regular operation in the remaining months of that year (Osip et al2). IMACS is now the most-used instrument on the Baade telescope, accounting for 63% of the nights available for astronomy in the 2005 observing year.
IMACS has two basic operating modes. A single 6-inch beam refractive collimator feeds either (1) an f/4 all-spherical refractive camera delivering 0.11 arcsec/pixel, or (2) a double-asphere refractive camera with oil-coupled multiplets producing a scale of 0.20 arcsec/pixel. The detector for both foci is an 8K x 8K mosaic camera of 8 SITe 2K x 4K 15 μ CCDs. The collimator and f/4 camera have performed to design specifications and have delivered 0.45 arcsec images across the 15 arcmin square field. The f/2 camera has delivered images of 0.55 to 0.65 arcsec across its 27 arcmin diameter field in excellent seeing (FWHM ~ 0.40 arcsec). The f/4 camera uses 6-inch reflecting gratings to obtain spectroscopy at multiple resolutions ranging from R=1350-9375; the f/2 camera uses three 6-inch grisms to achieve resolutions of R=450, 600, and 900 over its larger field. We routinely cut hundreds of slits in 30-inch diameter, stainless steel, spherical-shell slitmasks with a commercial laser system. Alignment procedures for observing are simple and efficient, typically requiring 5-10 minutes per set-up.
IMACS - an unusually versatile instrument - includes an IFU built by Durham University with two 5" x 8" (f/2) or 4" x 7" (f/4) apertures, each sampled by 1000 optical fibers. A Multi-Object Echelle mode, which can obtain 10-15 full wavelength R=20000 spectra, has been fully tested and has now started regular operation. The Maryland-Magellan Tunable Filter (MMTF) has been lab tested and will be commissioned in June 2006. In early 2007, Gladder's Image-Slicing Multislit Option (GISMO) will be ready for testing, and a second Mosaic CCD camera - which will simplify operations, increase sensitivity, and allow rapid access to both f/2 and f/4 modes - is under construction.
We report on the design challenges posed and met by the variety of operating modes and stringent performance requirements. We describe some issues encountered in the past two years in bringing such a complex, multi-mode instrument to the Magellan Observatory.
The Magellan Telescopes are a collaboration between the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW), University of Arizona, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) consisting of two 6.5 meter telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, in the Chilean Andes. The Walter Baade telescope achieved first light in September 2000 and the Landon Clay telescope started science operations in September 2002. In addition to two modified spectroscopic instruments, the Boller and Chivens Spectrograph and the Low Dispersion Survey Spectrograph (LDSS-2), four first generation instruments are now deployed at the Magellan Telescopes. Here we briefly describe the operations and performance of MagIC - a direct imaging CCD camera, MIKE - a double echelle spectrograph, PANIC - a near-IR imager, and IMACS - a multi-purpose, multi-object imaging spectrograph.
The Lowell Observatory Instrumentation System is the control system for a series of new instruments at Lowell, including the SOFIA first light instrument, HOPI. Sine these instruments will incorporate various detector systems and will be used with several telescopes, the concept of a loadable modulator based design was developed. The fundamental idea is to view the telescope, camera, and other instrument components as separate, interchangeable entities.