As the New Year approaches I am pleased to report that 2017 was yet another exciting and fruitful year for the W. M. Keck Observatory. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you briefly about some of our achievements, and to personally thank you for making these accomplishments possible through your philanthropic support.
Many of you may have heard me speak this year about the crucial elements that allow Keck to sustain its role as the leading observatory in world astronomy: People, Ideas, Execution, and Resources. Each of these elements is crucial to our success, but of them all, it is our People – our staff, our collaborators, our astronomers who conduct research at Keck, and our donors and volunteers – who are the true heroes in this story of discovery. As a supporter of Keck Observatory, you are a vital contributor to the science we produce, science that compels us to answer the great questions of astronomy: How did the universe begin? What is the ultimate nature and destiny of our universe? Are we alone in the vastness of the cosmos?
This year astronomy was the focus of the Nobel Prize in Physics, as three astronomers ‐ two of whom are faculty members at one of our parent institutions, the California Institute of Technology ‐ were recognized for four decades of work leading to one of the great discoveries of modern astronomy, the detection of gravitational waves. The Keck Observatory will play a vibrant role in future follow‐up observations in this new era of discovery. We are at the forefront of research into the most important questions: the origins of the universe and some of its most mysterious constituents – dark matter and dark energy; galaxy formation at the earliest times; the supermassive black holes at the center of our and other galaxies; extrasolar planets and the quest for places hospitable to life; geological phenomena on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and meteorological events in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune; and many other leading questions in astronomy today.
New instruments introduced at Keck this year have expanded our research capabilities further, with the commissioning of the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI) and the Near Infra‐Red Echelle Spectrometer (NIRES). Instruments now under development will further add to our leadership capabilities in astronomy, when in the next few years we bring to our science community the Keck Planet Finder (KPF) and the Keck Cosmic Reionization Mapper (KCRM).
New programs, including the Keck Visiting Scholars Program (KVSP) and the Keck Science Collaborative (KSC), were established this year to offer more scientific opportunities at the observatory for in‐house research and teaching. The KVSP provides the opportunity for early career scientists, post‐doctoral and graduate students, to be resident at Keck Observatory while working hands‐on with our telescopes and instrumentation. The KSC provides travel and research support to Keck Observatory resident astronomers focused on joint research and publication with scientists from our partner institutions.
Continuing investment in cutting‐edge technologies and in the best and brightest people will keep us in the vanguard as one of the world’s most productive and capable astronomical research facilities. Your commitment as a philanthropic friend of Keck Observatory is vital to us as we tackle these and other opportunities in the exciting years ahead. We are thrilled that you have partnered with us on this fascinating journey of discovery and we are very grateful for your continued generosity.
Please choose to make a donation to the Keck Observatory at this year’s end. You may make your gift online at http://www.keckobservatory.org/support/donate. Thank you for being an important member of the Keck Team.
With sincere appreciation,
Director of W. M. Keck Observatory