LOWELL OBSERVATORY ASTRONOMER NAMED DIRECTOR OF TELESCOPE ARRAY IN FLAGSTAFF
Flagstaff, AZ. – Lowell Observatory astronomer Gerard van Belle has been named the director of the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI) in Flagstaff, Arizona, effective May 1. Van Belle has been on the Lowell faculty since August of 2011 and is a noted world leader in astrophysical research and remote sensing utilizing telescope arrays such as NPOI.
NPOI is an advanced telescope array at Lowell’s Anderson Mesa dark sky site, roughly 10 miles outside of Flagstaff, an International Dark Sky city Lowell operates the facility in partnership with the Naval Research Lab (NRL) and the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO). NPOI links multiple optical telescopes spread over a site many football fields in size to form a single, larger synthetic telescope. It is the largest such operational facility in the world, with potential telescope separations up to 432 meters and the only one expressly built for the challenge of visible light operations.
The directorship of NPOI has rotated between USNO, NRL, and Lowell over the lifetime of the facility. The previous director of NPOI, Donald J. Hutter, retired from his position at the USNO on April 30. During his 13-year tenure ...