Calculation of Time on MMT & Magellan

Computation of the Cost of a Night of MMT or Magellan Telescope Observing

There are several ways to calculate the value of telescope time; in any case the value will fluctuate over time. We have chosen to calculate the value by using the current annual rate of investment in operations and instruments, and adding to this the amortized (over 20 years) capital costs of the facilities.

Value of Magellan Telescope Time

Operation annual budget shared by partners $2,650,014
Additional annual Carnegie operation costs $850,226
Capital investment for two telescopes (amortized 20 yrs) $3,665,250
Annual instrumentation costs for two telescopes $3,272,149
Total annual costs $10,437,639
Number of nights available to partners on two telescopes 590
Cost to partners per night $17,691

Value of MMT Telescope Time

Operation annual budget shared by partners $1,891,749
Additional annual SAO operation costs $133,000
Capital investment of conversion to 6.5 meter (amortized 20 yrs) $1,443,423
Annual instrumentation costs (f/5 plus AO) $4,370,000
Total annual costs $7,838,172
Number of nights available to partners 274
Cost to partners per night $28,606

The calculated values of the MMT and Magellan nights are different mainly because the current investment in instruments is very different at the two observatories: Magellan is currently investing less per year for two telescopes than the MMT is investing for one. Exclusive of instruments, the value of Magellan time is $12,145 per night and the value of MMT time is $12,658 per night. The investment in instruments will fluctuate over time. Since we propose to offer half of the TSIP time at each observatory, we effectively average the MMT and Magellan costs to arrive at a value of $23,149 per night.

Last updated or reviewed February 22, 2011.