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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication

April 14, 2004 -- No. 206

UNC to showcase new SOAR telescope
located in Chilean mountains

Media briefing:
2:30 p.m. Friday (April 16)
North Gallery, Morehead Building
UNC campus

Media representatives are invited to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill briefing spotlighting the new Southern Astrophysical Research, or SOAR, telescope.

Located in Chile, SOAR is a 4.1-meter aperture telescope designed to produce the best quality images of any observatory in its class worldwide. UNC is one of four partners in the $32 million project, along with the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Ministry of Science of Brazil and Michigan State University. SOAR is expected to begin routine science operations in late 2004.

The telescopeís superb optics, coupled with computerized remote controls and "quick change" instruments, will allow UNC physics and astronomy faculty and undergraduate and graduate students to capture some of the universeís most dazzling phenomena with only a few minutesí advance notice.

At the briefing, UNC Chancellor James Moeser and scientists will explain the significance of the telescope. Those scheduled to participate or be available include:

Dr. Bruce Carney, Samuel Baron professor and chairman of physics and astronomy.

Dr. Wayne Christiansen, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Morehead Observatory.

Dr. Dan Reichart, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, who designed a network of smaller telescopes that will operate near SOAR.

Adam Crain, a December UNC graduate from Hickory, who as an undergraduate co-developed the remote-access technology allowing researchers and students in Chapel Hill to operate the Chilean telescope.

Directly afterward, media representatives are invited to cover a campus ceremony attended by friends of the university and faculty and staff in UNCís department of physics and astronomy. (The telescope officially will be dedicated in Cerro Pachon, Chile, at a Saturday ceremony; a UNC delegation will attend.)

Moeser will preside at the Friday campus ceremony, to take place in the nearby Star Theater. Video detailing SOARís creation and real time participation from Christiansen and Carney in Chile via the Internet will be among the highlights of the ceremony.

Materials available at briefing: News releases detailing SOARís evolution and the undergraduate research element of the project, photos of the Southern Observatory for Astrophysical Research in Chile and of UNC researchers, and B-roll of the Chilean telescope.

Parking: Broadcast representatives with heavy equipment may park in the Morehead lot, off Franklin Street (please tell the attendant you are with the SOAR group). Others may park in the Morehead or Swain lots; parking also will be reserved on Franklin Street.

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News Services contacts: Deb Saine, (919) 962-8415 (office), 218-2380 (cell) or; or Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595 or 218-2467