#AAS235: Observatory named

by | Jan 9, 2020 | Space History | 0 comments

#AAS235: Observatory named
The NSF Vera C. Rubin Observatory will significantly advance what we know about dark matter and dark energy. Rubin provided important evidence of the existence of dark matter. Here, she is shown operating the 2.1-meter telescope at NSF’s Kitt Peak National Observatory.

The next big telescope we can all count on is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope that is being constructed in Chile. Designed to observe the entire visible Southern Sky every few nights, this telescope while give us a statistically driven understanding of the sky, as it buries us in Petabytes of data. This week we learned that the observatory facility is going to be named the Vera Rubin Observatory, in honor of the woman who played a commanding role in the discovery of dark matter. This naming, however, has not been without some confusion and frustration. While a lot of the webpages and articles associated with this announcement have said the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is being named after Vera Rubin, it is actually the facility, and the telescope itself is being named after a billionaire software developer, Charles Simonyi, who was part of Microsoft and went on to be the first space tourist and the only space tourist to go to space twice. Simonyi donated $20 million to the construction of LSST, while Bill Gates donated $10 million, and the total cost is estimated at more than $460 million. This naming of the telescope is not without controversy. We haven’t been able to confirm the details of how this name to happen, but it seems that astronomers may have found a new way to do a bad job naming things, and we’re going to be watching as this story unfolds or unravels, whichever the case may be. 

Beyond that, we’ve heard that Betelgeuse continues to dim, has not yet exploded, but is expected to begin returning to its regular behavior by the end of the month… maybe. 

Read more on the Vera Rubin Observatory here:

NSF-supported observatory renamed for astronomer Vera C. Rubin (NSF)


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