Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 262
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Mt. Hopkins Department
In October 1965, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Director Fred L. Whipple visited the southwestern United States for the purpose of choosing a site for a new branch observatory. The location selected was Mt. Hopkins in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona. Development of the site began in 1966, and the observatory was officially opened on October 23, 1968. Research activities at Mt. Hopkins included optical and laser satellite tracking for geodetic and geophysical studies, spectroscopic observation of both stellar and planetary bodies, and gamma-ray astronomy.
During 1965 and 1966, the Mt. Hopkins Observatory project was administered by the Office of the Director. Jack A. Coffey served as the first Project Administrator from December 1965 to December 1966 (except during March and April 1966 when Raymond Watts served in the position). In 1967, the newly created Programs Management Office assumed responsibility for Mt. Hopkins, with John J. Burke as chief administrative officer. In 1969, the Mt. Hopkins Department was established, with Ronald R. LaCount as Manager. Charles Tougas was appointed Field Manager of the Mt. Hopkins site in 1966. He was assisted by Werner Kirchhoff who served as Special Technical Advisor.
These records document the early history of the Mt. Hopkins Observatory and concern site development, the construction of buildings, the development of astronomical instruments for use at Mt. Hopkins, and projects conducted by SAO and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the Observatory. The records include a contracts file, 1966-1970; a projects file, 1967-1970; administrative records, 1966-1970; and photographs and color slides of the Observatory, 1969.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Whipple, Fred L. (Fred Lawrence), 1906-2004
- Watts, Raymond
- Coffey, Jack A.
- Burke, John J.
- LaCount, Ronald R.
- Tougas, Charles
- Kirchhoff, Werner
- Mt. Hopkins Observatory
- United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Programs Management Office
- Artificial satellites -- Tracking
- Geodetic astronomy
- Spectrum analysis
- Gamma ray astronomy
- Astronomical observatories
- Astronomical instruments
- Astrophysical observatories
- Santa Rita Mountains (Ariz.)
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 262, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Mt. Hopkins Department, Records