Letter from the Director: December 2018

By John Mulchaey, Crawford H. Greenewalt Chair and Director


Magellan telescopes at sunset from the air


Dear Friends,

As we approach the end of another calendar year, it's always nice to reflect on all that we have accomplished during the past twelve months. Looking back at some of our science highlights from 2018, I am immediately struck by the diversity of topics covered by our astronomers. From the most-distant black holes to newly discovered moons in our own Solar System, Carnegie astronomers are playing a central role in our understanding of the universe around us.

While access to our telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory is critical to many of these discoveries, our ability to recruit the best young scientists in the world also plays an important role. As I've said many times before, our postdoc program at The Observatories is a great source of pride for me. The majority of our postdocs arrive at Carnegie freshly out of graduate school and nearly all of them move on to permanent positions at major research institutions or universities. Many of the most influential astronomers have spent part of their careers at The Observatories. Nothing brings me more joy than watching these young scientists flourish and develop into leaders in their fields.

In this newsletter, you can read an interview with Carnegie-Princeton Fellow Eduardo Bañados whose pioneering work discovering distant quasars has frequently made the news in the last three years. Eduardo will be starting a faculty position at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany in 2019. Carnegie gives postdocs like Eduardo the resources to make ground-breaking discoveries and provides a launchpad for their careers.

As we continue to explore the universe, we also continue to expand our footprint in the community at large. From our growing presence on social media to our public lecture series and Open House, more people are aware of our unique mission than ever before. Our annual lecture series at The Huntington drew record crowds with all 372 tickets being snatched up in less than 30 minutes in one case. We also had record attendance at our annual Open House in October with well over 1,000 people visiting our campus. I was particularly thrilled to see so many families with young children that day. Inspiring future generations of scientists is an activity about which we are all passionate about at Carnegie Science.

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Cynthia Hunt who helped launch this newsletter for The Observatories two years ago. She is leaving at the end of 2018 to take on a wonderful new job at the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization. As GMT is an important part of our future at Carnegie, we are thrilled that Cindy will be helping to ensure this next generation telescope is built.

I look forward to sharing more wonders of the universe with you in the coming year.

Dr. John Mulchaey
Crawford H. Greenewalt Chair and Director
Carnegie Observatories