Mexico and Arizona Prepare To ‘Watch The Stars’ Together

November 13, 2017
(Rodrigo Cervantes - KJZZ)
Astronomers Dennis Zaritsky from UA, William Lee from UNAM and Buell Jannuzi from UA are part of a new bi-national endeavor to build a state-of-the-art telescope.

MEXICO CITY — Northern Mexico and Arizona share the same star-sparkled sky... as well as the interest to explore it. That’s why institutions from both sides are partnering to build a new telescope in Baja California, hoping to learn more about space.

The University of Arizona, the Smithsonian Institute, Mexico's National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) and the National University of Mexico — or UNAM — are planning to build the new telescope at San Pedro Mártir, similar to the one at Mount Hopkins, near Tucson.

Buell Jannuzi is head of the Department of Astronomy at UA. He explained the American institutions will provide some equipment, including the mirror, while both sides of the border will benefit from shared research.

“And that’s where great science happens: when you have state-of-the-art facilities with enough brain power behind them to actually make cool discoveries,” Januzzi said.

The 6 ½-meter diameter optical telescope will help scientists from Mexico and the U.S. to explore the universe. Dennis Zaritsky, professor of astronomy at UA, thinks the endeavor will bring exciting results.

“Everything from how stars form, to the earliest galaxies, to black holes… all of these topics are things that I’m sure individual investigators will propose,” said Zarisky.

“There are important things in science and technology between Mexico and the U.S. that are of lasting consequence,” said William Lee, the telescope project director and astronomy professor at UNAM.

According to Lee, the project will need a $100 million investment, plus the optics provided by Arizona. Right now, the project is in a preliminary review stage, being designed and evaluated it with experts.

The telescope is expected to be up and running by 2023, and working for decades.