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Telesco and his team of researchers scan the heavens for new planets

Published: June 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

Charles Telesco

Charles Telesco

Professor of Astronomy
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

With light pollution from densely populated cities and its low elevation, Florida may not be the best place to view a nighttime sky full of brilliant, shimmering stars. But that hasn’t stopped astronomy Professor Charles Telesco and his team from becoming an internationally recognized tour de force.

The Telesco team specializes in infrared cameras and spectrometers, which they’ve used on some of the largest telescopes in the world to understand the formation and evolution of stars and planets.

The latest big news from the team is its participation as part of the UF Department of Astronomy in building a new instrument to be used on the Gran Telescopio Canarias, which will be the world’s largest telescope, a $93 million behemoth under construction in Spain’s Canary Islands. The instrument is an infrared camera, called CanariCam, that will be the first instrument installed on the telescope when it begins operation.

Most recently, Telesco and his team have provided the mid-infrared camera called T-ReCS, to be used at the Gemini South telescope high in the Andes mountains of Chile. Gemini South, and its twin, Gemini North on Hawaii island, are the National Science Foundation’s flagship astronomy projects. T-ReCS is already doing groundbreaking research for UF and the international astronomy community.

After 12 years of researching at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Telesco was invited to UF in 1995 to help build the school’s astronomy program into a world-class research facility.

Since then, the program’s budget has grown from just under $500,000 to more than $2.1 million, mostly in funding from foundations and federal agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

“My long-term goal was to build a world-class research program and take our students to the largest telescopes in the world,” Telesco said. “That’s why I came here, and I feel we’ve gone a long way toward accomplishing those goals.”

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