As of 2018, astronomers at Northwestern have access to some of the largest ground-based observational facilities in the world, situated in Hawaii and Arizona. Astronomy researchers can apply for nights through the internal time allocation process.
Northwestern astronomers have access to a pair of twin 10-meter telescopes atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii: the Keck Observatory. The combination of the large 10-meter mirrors and exquisite observing site makes Keck an unparalleled facility prior to the operations of the Extremely Large Telescopes. The Keck telescopes have a combined suite of ten instruments with a wide range of capabilities at optical and near-infrared wavelengths: imaging, spectroscopy (low- and high-resolution), multi-object spectroscopy, and an adaptive optics system. This suite makes Keck extremely valuable for a wide range of science goals. In the coming years, it is expected that Keck will also be increasingly suitable for Target-of-Opportunity studies.
More information on the Keck Observatory and instrument suite.
Situated on the summit of Mount Hopkins in Arizona, Northwestern astronomers will be able to take observations with the 6.5-meter MMT Observatory. MMT is one of the most productive facilities in the Northern Hemisphere and one of a small number of telescopes of its size around the world. The MMT is outfitted with eight instruments encompassing optical and near-infrared imaging for small- and wide-fields, as well as single- and multi-object spectroscopy. Inclusive in this suite is a new optical imager and spectrograph, BinoSpec, which is being commissioned as of 2018. MMT operates in both classical and queue-scheduling modes, making it an ideal facility for both planned and unplanned, time-sensitive observations.