Brain Food: The Discovery Channel Telescope

Jan 23, 2014

The highly sensitive camera of Lowell Observatory's Discovery Channel Telescope is painting a brighter picture of faint objects in the universe.

The Discovery Channel Telescope
Credit Len Bright/Lowell Observatory

Stephen Tegler is an astronomy professor at Northern Arizona University. He says, "There's nothing like going to a large telescope to uncover some of nature's secrets." Tegler and his students are studying an ancient reservoir of planetary building blocks at the edge of the solar system. "You can discover things like shapes, their rotation periods, and their surface colors," Tegler says, "which gives us some information about their chemical properties. Just by using a telescope as a camera, much like you would the DCT (Discovery Channel Telescope)."

These origins of life, this formation of the universe, these were the mysteries that Percival Lowell had hoped to understand when he founded Lowell Observatory. Lowell Putnam IV says his great grand uncle would have been thrilled by the Discovery Channel Telescope.

"I think he'd be very proud," Putnam says. "In many ways, he was kind of the Carl Sagan of his era. He did the research, but also wanted to engage with the public and talk about what, where science was, what we know, what we think we know."

With this new eye on the universe, researchers at Lowell and NAU are working together to see deeper into the cosmos with the hope of making new discoveries.