Highlights from the Keck Telescope

Fred Chaffee

This was a talk covering all sorts of areas. Fred Chaffee is an affable and accomplished speaker as well as being the Head Honcho at Keck! Obviously he could give only a few of the major highlights that we have seen from this largest of telescopes. To find out more about the Keck, visit their website. Especially interesting is the 'news' section, where you can read in detail about the latest contribution to knowledge that the WMK telescope has been involved in.

Highlights from the twin domes of the W.M.Keck telescope include the Shoemaker-Levy comet crashing into Jupiter and the search for planets outside our own Solar System. Highlights for the slightly more technically-minded could include the detection of Deuterium in the spectra of Quasars - although we can produce Deuterium (an isotope of Hydrogen) artificially, in its natural state it is believed to be a signature of the big bang itself. A field that interests me greatly is that of young stars and starbirth generally. The Keck has done extensive work on L and T type stars and similar objects such as brown dwarfs and VLM (Very Low Mass) stars.

While much of the astrophysics is very much "out there", things closer to home have not been neglected. Especially, the Keck astronomers have done a lot of work as regards Jupiter's moon Io, the most volcanic world in the Solar System. From the website you can watch a 3d video of Io's erupting surface as it rotates!

To close, here's a little puzzle for all you experienced sky-watchers out there that I found whilst looking at the WMKO's handout. What is the bright star visible through the dome slit? You'll need to look closely to identify it, but as a clue... it has an important connection with Hawai'i!

(If you really get stuck and can't stand the thought of not knowing, drop me a line!)