HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 3, 2014 – High Point University is now an official member of the Small and Moderate Aperture Research Telescope System, otherwise known as SMARTS. Thanks to a science equipment grant from High Point University President Dr. Nido Qubein, faculty and students are now able to observe and collect data with four research-grade telescopes located on Cerro Tololo in Chile.
The SMARTS telescopes can either take photographs of faint astronomical objects (known as photometry) or spread the light from an object into all of its constituent colors (called spectroscopy). Together, these data permit observers to determine various properties of an object such as composition, speed, temperature, rotation rates and more.
“Our acceptance into SMARTS represents a phase change for HPU and the department of physics: We now have access to world-class research facilities used by astrophysicists across the world,” said Dr. Brad N. Barlow, assistant professor of astrophysics. “We in the Department of Physics are very excited about our membership in SMARTS.” Barlow, who submitted the science equipment grant to join SMARTS, worked with consortium leaders over the past six months in order to gain membership for HPU.
In addition to High Point University, primary SMARTS members are Yale University, Georgia State University, Ohio State University, SUNY-Stony Brook University, Wesleyan University and the American Museum of Natural History.
HPU professors and students are able to use all four of the SMARTS telescopes to conduct research. While three of them can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world, the smallest 0.9-meter telescope operates on a “classical observing mode.” Students and faculty must be inside the telescope dome in Chile to take data. Barlow plans to travel with students to Chile to use the 0.9-meter telescope.