“Giant Magellan Telescope and McDonald Observatory”
With: Prof. Taft Armandroff
Director, McDonald Observatory
The University of Texas at Austin
Abstract – The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is under construction at Las Campanas Observatory in northern Chile. Its primary collecting area consists of seven 8.4-meter diameter segments, giving it about a 5 times larger collecting area than the largest optical/infrared telescopes available today. Dr. Armandroff will give a summary of the properties of the GMT and some of the most exciting science that is planned for the GMT. Two Texas institutions are among the 13 partners in GMT: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.Dr. Armandroff will explain the positive impact the GMT is expected to have in Texas. He will also touch on what one can see during a visit to McDonald Observatory, especially what’s new.
Our Speaker : Taft Armandroff serves as the Director of The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory and a Professor in the Department of Astronomy. McDonald Observatory is one of the world's leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education and outreach. The Observatory operates multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of frontier astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any observatory in the continental United States, the largest of which is the Hobby-Eberly Telescope with its 10-meter mirror. McDonald Observatory also spearheads The University of Texas at Austin’s partnership in the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) that is being built in northern Chile. The GMT will be one of the world’s largest and most advanced telescopes.
Armandroff’s scientific interests include stellar populations in our galaxy and nearby galaxies, dwarf spheroidal galaxies, and globular clusters. He is passionate about advancing scientific discoveries via new telescopes, new instrumentation, and other observatory enhancements both large and small.
Prior to arriving at The University of Texas at Austin in June 2014, Armandroff served for eight years as Director of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. During his leadership, the two 10-meter-diameter Keck telescopes played a key role in many astronomical discoveries enabled by powerful new instrumentation and adaptive optics systems, new support from federal agencies, significant private philanthropic
contributions, and expanded institutional partnerships. Prior to his work at Keck, Taft spent nineteen years at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona, starting as a postdoctoral research fellow and culminating as a tenured astronomer and NOAO Associate Director.
A 1982 graduate of Wesleyan University, Armandroff holds a B.A. in astronomy with high honors. He continued his studies at Yale University, earning an M.S., M. Phil., and Ph.D., all in astronomy.
Armandroff serves on the Boards of Directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET). He is currently Vice Chair of the GMT Board and Chair of the HET Board.