The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) is a 4.3-meter aperture telescope being built for Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and will be the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States once completed in 2011. The DCT is currently under construction at a dark sky site on the Coconino National Forest near Happy Jack, Arizona. Happy Jack is located at an elevation of and is approximately 45 miles SSE of Flagstaff. The project is a partnership with Discovery Communications and Lowell Observatory. In its initial implementation, the telescope will cost approximately $40 million. In subsequent phases, the DCT will be equipped with wide-field imaging capability and for high-resolution spectroscopy. The telescope will significantly augment Lowell Observatory’s observational capability and enable pioneering studies in a number of important research areas.
The DCT is designed to support a variety of optical configurations. The phase one configuration will be ideal for high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy both at visible and the near-infrared wavelengths. Once the phase two prime focus camera is completed, the telescope will be able to image a circular portion of the sky having a diameter equivalent to four full moons placed edge to edge. Accordingly, the DCT will feature exceptional ability to perform deep imaging surveys of the night sky, while retaining the ability to be switched to the alternate......