National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) STAR Lab

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What Is NOAO?

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is the US national research & development center for ground-based night time astronomy. In particular, NOAO is enabling the development of the US optical-infrared (O/IR) System, an alliance of public and private observatories allied for excellence in scientific research, education and public outreach. NOAO's core mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers to leading scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other telescopes throughout the O/IR System. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-10m. NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky.

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What type of work is done at NOAO?

In support of this mission, NOAO is engaged in programs to develop the next generation of telescopes, instruments, and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation throughout the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies. In keeping with their observation missions, NOAO also does light pollution research. You can review a 2014 STAR Fellow's research comparing dark sky measurements methods here. In addition to its fundamental science work, NOAO is also an education and outreach leader providing programs and resource materials on topics ranging from optics to art and energy conservation.

Research Opportunities for STAR Fellows

NOAO is a small research facility offering two to four placements, providing an excellent opportunity to develop your research in close collaboration with your research mentor and working within small teams. Fellows must expect to 'hit the ground running' at the start of their Fellowship making observations at Kitt Peak Observatory to advance a digital imaging and science calibration program as weather permits. Take a peak at the earlier DSLR work here. Atmospheric conditions can certainly limit your data collection opportunities so, understandably, NOAO fellows do not work typical 9am-5pm hours! Work and housing is typically based at the UA campus in Tucson.

Visit the Cal Poly Digital Commons to browse previous STAR Fellow projects at this site.


This is actually Kitt Peak Observatory where much of the work takes place.


More info about NOAO