Wyoming astronomers realized in the 1970s that the high and dry (which is not at all the same thing as "warm") climate, plus nearby mountaintops, offered very attractive possibilities for infrared astronomy. When completed, the 2.3-meter IR-optimized telescope here was one of the largest operated by a university. These views date from the late summer of 1978, when the new-telescope smell hadn't worn off, and the staff was still going through all manner of work trying to reduce the electronic damage from all-too-frequent lightning strikes. Note the tiny secondary mirror, which goes with a large effectiev focal ratio. This is usual for IR-optimmized instruments, to keep the amount of radiating material in the beam small, reduce radiation spillage from reflecting telescope structure into the beam, and being able to move the mirror in small and precise steps for chopping the signal so as to emove small changes in sky brightness. The mount also shows it latitude, unusually high among US observatories at almost 45 degrees.
This may not have been the first astronomical center on this site. There is a "medicine wheel", as many New World stone circles became know, on an adjacent mountainside, if renegade off-roading hasn't finished wiping it out yet.
Last changes: 03/2001 © 2001