A “High Altitude Southern Utah Observatory” was established in October at Frisco Peak in southwestern
Utah. It houses a new DFM 32-inch (0.8m), robotic research class telescope for the University
The observatory and the research telescope were funded by a $600,000 donation from the Willard L.
With the DFM research telescope at the heart of the new Southern Utah Observatory, the Eccles Foundation
has also provided a grant to the Physics Department to become a full institutional member of the Sloan
Digital Sky Survey - III Collaboration Project which currently includes over 20 elite research
institutions from around the globe.
“A very important purpose of this telescope is to be the seed for the site to become an international
facility of observations,” says Paolo Gondolo, an associate professor of physics at the University
of Utah. The project is a solid effort to establish a full-fledged astronomy program at the university.
The Southern Utah Observatory location (elevation 9,600 ft.) was accessible only by steep rocky
roads, in rugged terrain which made the installation challenging. The nearest town of Milford was
located 20 miles away.
Normal road access to the observatory could not accommodate the usual enclosed truck delivery method.
The DFM team unloaded the telescope components onto a flat bed truck in Milford and hauled the parts
up to the observatory, a few parts at a time.
The crane day was scheduled to allow for the staggered delivery of the telescope components.
All components were carefully lowered into the observatory through the dome and cleaned thoroughly
before assembly began.
The auxiliary storage building was in its final stages of construction as the DFM team began the
telescope installation in the adjacent observatory.
The auxiliary building still needed insulation installed and external painting.
The building was also lodging for the DFM team during the installation and test phases.
Assembly of the new telescope was efficient since each telescope is completely assembled and tested
at the DFM manufacturing plant before shipping to the customer’s site.
After onsite assembly of the telescope and installation of the optics were completed, the DFM team
proceeded with adjustments to the primary drives and the final testing of all peripheral instrumentation.
The expert installation by the DFM team and cooperation from the University of Utah staff proved
to be very successful.
The tracking performance of the telescope was confirmed by demonstrating a RMS of better than 12
The DFM remote telescope now provides support for further observations and data obtained from the
Sloan Digital Sky Survey III.
It is an instrument for teaching new astronomy majors and graduate students in the astronomy programs
at the University of Utah and others around the state.
Collaboration between BYU and USU will open up the skies to those future astronomers studying there.
Astronomy, planet hunting, Gamma Ray searching, galaxy formation, and other topics are also being
Plans for public access and outreach will be determined in 2010.
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