Monday, March 10, 2014

Observatory 2

Two eyes to see
The distant stars
Beyond the planet

Mount John University Observatory (MJUO), is New Zealand's premier astronomical research observatory. It is situated at 1,029 metres (3,376 ft) ASL atop Mount John at the northern end of the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island, and was established in 1965 There are many telescopes on site including: one 0.4m, two 0.6m, one 1.0m, and a new 1.8m 'MOA Telescope' (see below) The nearest population center is the resort town Lake Tekapo (pop. <500). Approximately 20% of nights at MJUO are photometric, with a larger number available for spectroscopic work and direct imaging photometry.

MJUO is operated by the University of Canterbury, and is the home of HERCULES (High Efficiency and Resolution Canterbury University Large Echelle Spectrograph), and the observational wing of the Japanese/New Zealand MOA collaboration (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics) led by Professor Yasushi Muraki of Nagoya University. A Japanese funded, 1.8 meter telescope is now in place and will be used initially by the MOA Project, before handover to the University of Canterbury at the conclusion of the MOA Project in 2012.

In June 2012 an area of 430,000 hectares (1,700 sq mi) around the observatory was declared as the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association, one of only four such reserves around the world The area has a Bortle Scale of 2

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