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Wed., March 18 - Smithsonian Lecture Series on Astronomy

This series continues with Professor Edward Olszewski, University of Arizona, who will give a talk on "Modern, Changing Views of the Magellanic Clouds." Prof. Olszewski is also a frequent observer at the MMTO. The series is held at the Green Valley Recreation Center from 9:00am-10:30am and is free and open to the public. Please join us there!

MMT Data used in Discovery of Unprecedented Supermassive Black Hole

Astronomers from Peking University in China and the University of Arizona have discovered the most luminous quasar known at a redshift of greater than 6. The ultra-luminous quasar has a black hole that clocks in with a mass of about 12 billion times the mass of the Sun. This incredible object was discovered and characterized in part with the Red Channel Spectrograph at the MMT. Its existence is a challenge for current theories of black hole formation and growth and may support claims that supermassive black holes grew much more quickly in the early universe in comparison to their host galaxies. Read more here.

Coldest Variable Brown Dwarf Discovered

A recent paper by reserachers at Arizona State University shows the discovery of the coldest variable brown dwarf published to-date. The astronomers used the SWIRC instrument to monitor four brown dwarfs over multiple epochs. One of those showed significant variability. These ultracool dwarfs are important evolutionary links between giant planets and the lowest mass stars, and their atmospheres will continue to be investigated further with larger surveys. Read more here.

Astronomy collaborations with Mexico

The MMTO is part of a developing collaboration between the University of Arizona and Mexico regarding astronomy, along with other science-related interests. To read more, click here.

Wed., Feb. 11 - Smithsonian Lecture Series on Astronomy

Dr. Karin Sandstrom, University of Arizona, will give a talk on "Our Dusty Universe." This series is held at the Green Valley Recreation Center from 9:00am-10:30am. All lectures are free and open to the public. Click here for the dates and the list of speakers and topics.

Observing Schedule

The observing schedule for January - April 2015 is posted along with Program Titles.

Week of Dec. 8 - Work on Mt. Hopkins Rd. - Revised

Due to continued roadwork, restrictions will be in place on Dec. 8-9 with road openings at 8:00-8:30am, noon-12:30, and after 4:00pm. On Dec. 10 & 11, the road will close at 8:30am and reopen at 4:00pm each day while work is done around km 9. A walk-through will be in place with vehicles available on either side. On Dec. 12, there will again be restrictions with the road open at 8:00-8:30am, noon-12:30, and after 4:00pm. Call 520-879-4422 for recorded updates.

Dec. 3-4: Roadwork on Mt. Hopkins

Culvert replacement will be conducted around km 7 on December 3 & 4, resulting in an overnight closure of the road at that area. The road will close at 8:30am on Dec. 3 and reopen after 4:00pm on Dec. 4. A walk-through will be in place with vehicles available on either side for use by observers and staff.  Current plans are for restrictions to be in place on Dec. 5, with road openings at 8-8:30am, noon-12:30, and after 4:00pm. Check back here for updates.

Local County is Proactive about Lighting

Cochise County, Arizona, has recently updated its lighting codes with the latest lighting technology in mind. The result is more protection for observatories and astronomy, while allowing enough light for the needs of businesses. Read about the county leading the way in the state!

New Discovery

Researchers at ASU recently announced the discovery of a wide brown dwarf companion to the nearby star zeta Delphini using data taken at the MMT with the ARIES instrument. The star and its brown dwarf, which are about 67 parsecs away, were observed as part of a larger survey of nearby stars called VAST (Volume-limited A-Star survey). The brown dwarf is located quite far away from its host star - about 900 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun - and is among the most widely separated companions known to date. Read the full article here.