The Dark Energy Survey

The Dark Energy Survey

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The Telescope

The 4 meter Blanco telescope. The green circle marks the location of the prime focus cage where DECam will be mounted. Credit: CTIO/AURA/NSF
DECam will be mounted on the Victor M. Blanco Telescope, also known as the Blanco 4m, located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. CTIO is located on top of two mountains in the Chilean Andes; Cerro Tololo, which is 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) high, and Cerro Pachon, which is 8,900 feet (2,700 meters) high. Both mountains are about 285 miles (460 km) north of Santiago and 50 miles (80 km) inland from the coastal city of La Serena. The telescope is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The Blanco telescope and dome are shown to the left. To give a sense of the immense scale of the telescope, compare its size to the human highlighted by the red circle. The green circle indicates the prime focus cage where the DES imaging device, DECam, will be installed. The Blanco is ideally suited to receive this new device because it was originally built to hold a heavy load at this top end. When it was built, people rode in the prime focus cage and took astronomical pictures using heavy glass photographic plates. Now, DECam will be taking pictures of roughly the same size with electronic CCD's.

In addition to its use for the Dark Energy Survey, DECam will be a facility instrument on the Blanco telescope. This means it will be available for general use by the astronomical community, providing an order of magnitude increase in reach over the current Blanco imager, MOSAIC II.