ND contract with UA Telescope disheartening
BY: Charles J. Babbitt
Notre Dame has contracted for six viewing nights per year at the University of Arizona's Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) on Mount Graham at $267,000 per night. The National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO), representing the top U.S. universities, rejected Mt. Graham in 1987 noting that its turbulent, murky, cloud-enshrouded skies had suitable viewing only half of the time.
Therefore, Notre Dame could actually pay $533,000 per night — which is equivalent to about $50,000 an hour and $1,000 a minute. Think of how many needy students could enroll at Notre Dame each year for that.
Notre Dame may have to wait a long time for the LBT and its two eight-meter mirrors. The largest mirror UA has made, the 6.5 meter Mt. Hopkins mirror, after nearly a decade, is still not ready. UA has never made an eight-meter or larger mirror, even though there are already seven of them operational world-wide. The UA's first eight-meter mirror was a casting fiasco. Their mirror constructions have been dogged by confusion and delay.
Perhaps Notre Dame wishes to show support for the Vatican's controversial Mt. Graham telescope and the Vatican's desecration of a sacred Apache site and fragmentation of America's southernmost boreal ecosystem. To bulldoze and dynamite their way up there, UA and the Vatican lobbied and obtained congressional riders exempting themselves from U.S. environmental and cultural protection laws.
Have morality and ethics been replaced by some unconscionable desire to shore up an environmentally dysfunctional project under the pretense of academic purpose? Such comportment by Notre Dame is disheartening.
Charles J. Babbitt
Class of '67
August 23, 1999
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, August 30, 1999