The Astronomy Department is a partner in the MDM Observatory Consortium and has a 25% share of the 1.3-meter McGraw-Hill telescope and the 2.4-meter Hiltner telescope. Graduate students doing observational research receive a large fraction of the 150 nights per year of observing time on the two telescopes. In addition, the Observatory provides the opportunity for designing, building, testing, and using innovative optical and near-IR instrumentation developed in our laboratories.
In addition, the department maintains telescopes in two domes atop Pupin Hall, used primarily for teaching and public outreach.
Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory (CAL)
The Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, a joint endeavor involving the Astronomy and Physics Departments, has extensive experience in the design and construction of new astronomical instruments for rocket, satellite and balloon missions, as well as groundbased telescopes.
Facilities at our Nevis Labs include laboratories and equipment for testing and assembling experiments, an electronics shop, and an instrument machine shop. In addition, there is a fully equipped machine shop available for student use in the Pupin Building and additional laboratories for instrument development.
Current projects include NuSTAR (the first hard X-ray imaging satellite, scheduled for launch in 2012), millimeter receivers for Cosmic Microwave Background experiments, instrumentation for the Laser Interferometer Gravity-wave Observatory, UV instrumentation, laboratory astrophysics and CCD cameras.
The Astrophysics Laboratory and Astronomy department maintain a large network of workstations and each student is assigned a private computer on arrival. Additionally, the department has a large share of a 520 core compute cluster, and individual faculty have extensive allocations on national supercomputers.