Ohio State University astronomers have won a major grant to increase their participation -- and as such their observing time -- in the Large Binocular Telescope project.

University officials received word recently that Research Corporation, one of the current partners in the LBT, is designating a portion of its share in the project for Ohio State's use. That portion is valued at $2.5 million.

The university announced in October that it was beginning negotiations to become a partner in what will be the world's biggest telescope on a single mount. According to that plan, Ohio State would commit $6.4 million in cash and services to the project in exchange for a one-eighth share of its use.

The grant from Research Corporation would mean that OhioState's share would increase to one-sixth. That would mean that university researchers and students would have access to up to 55 nights of observing time each year. Before the new grant, Ohio State was to have access on only 42 nights annually.

Research Corporation President John P. Schaefer said, "We evaluated the Ohio State proposal by having a committee of distinguished researchers visit the astronomy department. After their review, it is clear that the university has an extremely strong program."

Robert Gold, acting dean of the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said, "This award represents an important external validation of the quality of our astronomy program." The LBT is being built atop the 10,600-foot Mount Graham in southern Arizona and will have two 8.4-meter (27.6 feet) primary mirrors. Together, they will perform as an 11.8-meter (38.7 feet) telescope. Once completed, it will have 24 times the light-gathering power of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Current partners in the LBT Corporation include the University of Arizona, the Research Corporation, and a group of astronomical institutes from Italy. A group of German scientific institutions is negotiating to join the project as well. When Ohio State and the German institutions do join, the project wibe fully subscribed.

The LBT is a continuation of an earlier partnership, the Columbus Project, from which OhioState withdrew for financial reasons in 1991. Ohio State has retained a small share in the project based on its initial investment in spite of its earlier withdrawal.

Contact: Patrick Osmer, (614) 292-2022;

Written by Earle Holland, (614) 292-8384;

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