The Magellan Telescopes Consortium, consisting of then Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW), University of Arizona, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), jointly run two 6.5 meter optical telescopes in the southern hemisphere. The telescopes, named after Walter Baade and Lucius Clay, are located on Cerro Las Campanas at an altitude of 8000 feet in the Chilean Andes.
First light for the Baade telescope occurred on September 15, 2000, and the dedication of both telescopes took place on December 9th, 2000. The telescopes began operations in February 2001 and September 2002, respectively.
Each telescope has two f/11 Nasmyth ports and three folded Nasmyths, and allows for rapid between ports. The Clay telescope has an f/5 Cassegrain port and a deformable adaptive secondary that delivers an f/16 beam at one of the Nasmyth ports. The consortium partners have provided instruments for direct imaging and spectroscopy at optical and infrared wavelegths.
In 2010 Professor Rob Simcoe of MIT installed FIRE, a high throughput medium resolution spectrometer on the Baade telescope, where it is now a facility instrument. Simcoe and his students and collaborators have used it to study the enrichment of the intergalactic medium by the first galaxies.
The Magellan telescopes are equipped with a closed-loop active optics system that ensures that images delivered by the telescope are as good as the atmosphere permits. Professor Paul Schechter (who did much of the system design) and his students exploit this to study the distribution of dark matter by measuring the gravitational lensing of
galaxies and quasars.
Professor Anna Frebel and her students and collaborators use MIKE, the high resolution spectrometer, to study the abundances of elements in very old stars with near primordial compositions. The abundance patterns they observe tell us about the first generation of stars, which are likely to have been very different from the stars we observe today.
Prof. Josh Winn has used Magellan to observe extrasolar planets via lightcurves of transits/occultations as they pass in from of their host star, and also velocity variations they induce via doppler reflex motion.