ATMoB Business Meeting Online and W. Lowell Putnam's Presentation.
Our speaker this month is W. Lowell Putnam. Mr. Putnam will be presenting on the operation of, and research done by, the
Naval Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI). This facility, built and managed by Lowell Observatory, is the longest baseline
optical interferometer in the world and is used by its 3 partners (Lowell Observatory, the U.S. Naval Observatory and the Naval
Research Laboratory) for a variety of research purposes.
From the NPOI website: “NPOI is a specialized astronomical telescope called an interferometer. Instead of a single telescope,
an array of six mirrors spaced tens of meters apart precisely direct beams of light from a star to a point. Extraordinary image
detail can be derived from the resulting data.
NPOI can record images of stars and optically separate distant pairs of stars so close together that they appear as a single star in
even the largest conventional telescopes. NPOI has the ability to measure the precise relative positions of stars across the sky
which the Naval Observatory uses as a reference system for the determination of positions on earth and in space and for
monitoring time keeping. Currently operating at about one-fourth of its designed capability, when finished the interferometer will
span the distance of over four football field lengths, 430 meters.”
The Lowell Observatory was financed and used by Putnam’s Great-Granduncle, Percival Lowell. The elder Lowell used the
observatory’s 24-inch refractor to conduct a detailed survey of the surface features on Mars. When completed the NPOI facility
will be capable of studying exoplanets around relatively nearby stars! I’m looking forward to Lowell’s presentation. I hope you
are too! For more information, here's the link for the NPOI website: https://lowell.edu/research/research-facilities/npoi/
Mr. Putnam is serving as the 5th Sole Trustee of Lowell Observatory, having succeeded his father, Bill in 2013. Putnam
also serves as one of seven members of the Board of Trustees of the Lowell Observatory Foundation
Prior to becoming the Trust Administrator for the observatory in 2010 he founded Video Communications, Inc., a software
company specializing in business systems for TV networks, cable channels, and local TV stations. Clients included The Weather
Channel, Comcast, Univision, and many local TV stations across the country.
Mr. Putnam holds a B.S. in Psychology from American International College in Massachusetts and is a Life Member of
the American Alpine Club and The Nature Conservancy. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Northern Arizona
University in 2018.