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Apache Point Observatory notes 10th anniversary

Kurt Anderson recalls skiing around the high Sacramento Mountains in the mid-1980s looking for a good spot for an observatory.

eather is important, so I put some weather monitoring equipment around the mountaintops and I would ski in with an old Apple computer on my back to download the data," said Anderson, a professor of astronomy at New Mexico State University.

Today, Apache Point Observatory sits on one of those peaks that Anderson scouted, south of Cloudcroft in south-central New Mexico. Scientists from around the country are gathering there on Thursday and Friday, May 27 and 28, to celebrate 10 years of operation and to share some of their recent findings.

The day-long event marks the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the observatory's 3.5-meter telescope in 1994. The telescope is shared by seven institutions that make up the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) -- New Mexico State University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, the University of Washington and the University of Colorado at Boulder. NMSU operates the observatory site for the consortium.

"We have had a decade of very successful operations," said Anderson, the observatory's site director. "And the observatory itself has grown."

In addition to the 3.5-meter ARC telescope, the observatory is home to a 1-meter telescope owned by NMSU and to the 2.5-meter Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope, a unique telescope that is mapping a large portion of the universe.

Anderson said about 100 people were expected for the anniversary event. Scientists from ARC institutions will present results of recent research using the 3.5-meter telescope.