Lowell Observatory says it has reached a milestone with the new $53 million Discovery Channel Telescope. The first research results from the state of the art telescope have now been accepted for publication. 

Lowell officials say the research itself isn’t as important as the milestone reached with the 4.3-meter (13 feet) telescope. Still, the results will be published in the Astronomical Journal, a leading peer-reviewed scientific publication.

Lowell astronomers Dave Schleicher, Matthew Knight and Stephen Levine observed the comet Temple 2 over five nights earlier this year. The study helped refine the comet’s rotational behavior. 

“Scientists publish results in academic journals through peer review, the exacting and critical evaluation of their work by their practicing colleagues,” Lowell Observatory Director Jeff Hall said in a message to the Daily Sun. “Acceptance for publication of work from the Discovery Channel Telescope in a peer-reviewed journal means the DCT is a first-rank research telescope, and that the scientists who use it are equally up to the task of unlocking and presenting results that meet the highest level of academic scrutiny and standards.”

Calibrating a new telescope the size of the DCT is a major undertaking that can often take years, but Hall says the process has so far gone more smoothly than expected for the observatory.

Lowell published the first images from DCT last year. Astronomers say the telescope will allow local scientists to produce world-class research by giving them ample time to make observations amid intense competition of most other telescopes its size.

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.

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