Ohio State University officials have begun negotiations to become partners in two major observatories, one of which will house the world's largest telescope on a single mount.

Ohio State intends to buy a one-eighth share in the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) being built now on Mount Graham in southern Arizona. The university also wants to become a partner in the Michigan- Dartmouth-MIT (MDM) Observatory located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. The deal would give Ohio State faculty and students access to three modern telescopes.

University President E. Gordon Gee said, "This is an outstanding opportunity for Ohio State. Our astronomy department has made tremendous strides in the last decade.

"Joining these two fine observatories at this time will give our students and faculty access to the latest technology available, helping them to answer some of the most fundamental questions that have puzzled science for centuries."

The LBT is a continuation of an earlier partnership, the

Columbus Project, from which Ohio State 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.

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 will be fully subscribed.

The proposal to join the MDM Observatory on Kitt Peak, one of the sites that make up the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, would give access to two additional telescopes. MDM operates a 2.4-meter (7.8 feet) telescope and a 1.3-meter (4.2 feet) telescope. The larger of the two is capable of producing images with resolutions as high as any similar instrument in the United States.

"Great universities have great astronomy departments and this project will give Ohio State a chance to be at the very forefront of science," explained Patrick Osmer, chair of astronomy.

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

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

EDITOR'S NOTE: Videotape (Beta) showing the proposed Large Binocular Telescope and comments by Ohio State astronomy department chair Pat Osmer are available on request. Contact Earle Holland (614) 292-8384).

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