Timeline of Important Events for NSF's NOIRLab 

 

Timeline of Important Events for NSF's NOIRLab 

1950–1960

March 1956: The Tohono O’odham Nation agrees to a test site (with a 16” telescope) to be built on Kitt Peak in Arizona. Kitt Peak is a sacred mountain to the Tohono O’odham Nation who call it I’oligam Du’ag which means “Manzanita Bush Mountain.”

October 1957: AURA is founded

October 1957: Robert R. McMath is appointed President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA

 
December 1957: Aden B. Meinel is appointed as the first Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
February 1958: The Tucson Base building land is acquired 
March 1958: Kitt Peak is selected as the site for Kitt Peak National Observatory
October 1958: Kitt Peak lease with the Tohono O’odham Nation is signed
June 1959: The Universities of Chile, Chicago, and Texas sign an agreement for a cooperative observatory to be funded by the U.S. Air Force  
June 1959: C.D. Shane is appointed President of AURA  
July 1959: Kitt Peak National Observatory construction starts 

1960–1970

March 1960: Kitt Peak National Observatory (later NOIRLab) HQ in Tucson, AZ, is completed 
March 1960: Kitt Peak National Observatory dedication ceremony
October 1960: Nicholas Mayall is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
June 1962: Frank K. Edmondson is appointed President of AURA
November 1962: Cerro Tololo in Chile is selected as site for Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) 
November 1962: Completed McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope is dedicated 
November 1962: First Light at McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope 
December 1962: Official flag hoisting on Cerro Tololo in Chile. This was planned with the governor of the Elqui Department and the captain of the police present.   
January 1963: AURA buys the property called “El Totoral” which includes close to 30,000 hectares with Cerro Tololo near its center. “El Totoral” means a place where Totora grass, a reed-like plant used for roofing, grows.   
April 1963: Jurgen Stock is appointed first Director of CTIO  
October 1963: A plot of land is purchased in La Serena for construction of the CTIO offices, laboratories and staff housing. The property was later extended to its current size through two additional purchases in July 1966 and May 1968. 
January 1964: Leveling of the top of Cerro Tololo starts
September 1964: First Light on the Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1-meter Telescope
June 1965: Rupert Wildt is appointed President of AURA  
July 1966: Hoag, Edmondson, Hiltner are appointed Acting directors of CTIO  
April 1967: Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope construction begins 
August 1967: Víctor M. Blanco is appointed Director of CTIO 
November 1967: Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory inauguration  
December 1967: Excavation starts for the future Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope
June 1968: W. A. Hiltner is appointed President of AURA  
September 1971: Leo Goldberg is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
June 1971: Rupert Wildt is appointed President of AURA  
June 1972: Gilbert L. Lee, Jr. is appointed President of AURA  
June 1973: The Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope, the world’s second largest, is dedicated 
November 1974: Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope prime focus First Light ceremony   
June 1977: John M. Teem is appointed President of AURA  
August 1977: Víctor M. Blanco is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Acting Director 
October 1977: The Chilean government signs a decree declaring the CTlO lands a "Privileged Scientific Sanctuary," where mining is prohibited without the express consent of the Chilean President.
October 1978: Geoffrey Burbidge is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 

1980–1990

January 1981: Patrick Osmer is appointed Director of CTIO  
June 1983: The solar programs at Kitt Peak National Observatory and Sacramento Peak in New Mexico merge to form the National Solar Observatory (NSO).
February 1984: The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) is formed by combining Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory and Kitt Peak National Observatory operations into one organization 
February 1984: John Jefferies is appointed first NOAO Director 
February 1984: Bob Howard is appointed first National Solar Observatory Director  
September 1984: Sidney Wolff is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
January 1986: Robert (Bob) Williams is appointed Director of CTIO
June 1986: Goetz K. Oertel is appointed President of AURA  
March 1987: AURA accepts the recommendation of Maunakea in Hawai‘i as the site for the future Gemini North telescope
August 1987: Sidney Wolff is appointed NOAO Director 
January 1988: David de Young is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director
June 1988: John Leibacher is appointed NSO Director  
June 1989: Cerro Pachón in Chile is chosen as site for Gemini South

1990–2000

February 1991: An additional plot of land adjoining the original “El Totoral" property is purchased on Cerro Pachón consolidating AURA’s ownership of the site of the future Gemini South telescope.  
May 1992: Groundbreaking on Kitt Peak for WIYN 3.5-meter Telescope  
June 1992: Sidney Wolff is named Gemini Director, on leave from NOAO directorship
June 1993: Mark Phillips is appointed Acting Director of CTIO  
June 1993: Malcolm G. Smith is appointed Director of CTIO
June 1993: Jacques Beckers is appointed NSO Director  
October 1993: United States becomes a Gemini Partner  
October 1993: United Kingdom  becomes a Gemini Partner  
October 1993: Canada  becomes a Gemini Partner  
January 1994: An additional plot of land adjoining the “El Totoral” property is purchased on Cerro Pachón, consolidating AURA’s ownership of the site of the future SOAR Telescope  
June 1994: Caty Pilachowski is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Acting Director 
June 1994: WIYN 3.5-meter Telescope First Light   
August 1994: Brazil becomes a Gemini Partner  
October 1994: Chile  becomes a Gemini Partner  
October 1994: Argentina  becomes a Gemini Partner  
October 1994: Gemini construction ground-breaking begins on Maunakea
October 1994: Gemini construction ground-breaking begins on Cerro Pachón
December 1994: Matt Mountain is appointed Gemini Director 
October 1994: WIYN 3.5-meter Telescope dedication ceremony  
September 1995: 4-meter telescope is dedicated to Víctor M. Blanco 
June1997: Doug Rabin is appointed Acting NSO Director  
June 1997: Richard Green is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
April 1998: SOAR Telescope groundbreaking ceremony 
May 1998: Australia  becomes a Gemini Partner  
November 1998: Gemini North Hilo Base Facility is dedicated 
January 1999: SOAR Consortium is founded, following the nation of Brazil becoming a partner, finalizing the partnership formation process.  
February 1999: Gemini North engineering first light (JHK infrared image of Mon R2)  
March 1999: an additional plot of land adjoining the “El Totoral" property is purchased on Cerro Pachón consolidating AURA’s ownership of the site of the future Vera C. Rubin Observatory  
April 1999: Steve Keil is appointed NSO Director  
June 1999: Gemini North dedication 
June 1999: First Light images are released at the Gemini North dedication  

2000–2010

April 2000: Steve Heathcote is appointed SOAR Director
June 2000: William S. Smith, Jr is appointed AURA Director  
November 2000: Gemini South First Light image is released
April 2001: Jeremy Mould is appointed NOAO Director 
June 2001: NSO becomes an independent AURA Center  
January 2002: Gemini South dedication 
November 2002: Gemini North is named in honor of a pioneer of infrared astronomy, Frederick C. Gillett 
April 2003: The LSST project (later named Vera C. Rubin Observatory) is formed 
November 2003: Alistair R. Walker is appointed Director of CTIO 
April 2004: Dedication ceremony for the SOAR Telescope is held on Cerro Pachón. 
April 2004: SOAR Telescope First Light  
Sept 2005: Jean-Rene Roy is appointed acting Gemini Director  
September 2005: Buell Jannuzi is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Acting Director
May 2006: the El Peñón summit on Cerro Pachón in Chile is selected as the future site for the 8.4-m Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).  
June 2006: Doug Simons is appointed Gemini Director  
March 2007: Buell Jannuzi is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
April 2007: Todd Boroson is appointed Acting NOAO Director
June 2008: George Jacoby is appointed WIYN Director
March 2008: David Silva is appointed NOAO Director 
November 2008: Robert (Chris). Smith is appointed Director of CTIO 
July 2009: TMT Board of Directors selects Maunakea as the preferred site for the Thirty Meter Telescope after a site testing campaign evaluating sites in Chile, USA and Mexico.   

2010–2020

 
June 2010: Pat Knezek is appointed interim WIYN Director.
June 2010: Abi Saha is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Acting Director 
June 2011: Timothy Beers is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
May 2011: Fred Chaffee is appointed Gemini Director  
July 2011: Las Campanas Observatory chosen as the site for the Giant Magellan Telescope  
May 2012: Nancy Levenson is appointed Gemini Acting Director 
September 2012: Dark Energy Camera First Light 
August 2012: Markus Kissler-Patig is appointed Gemini Director 
October 2012: Nicole van der Bliek is appointed Interim Director of CTIO
December 2012: UK leaves Gemini (STFC of UK announced on Nov. 15, 2007 to withdraw from Gemini partnership. By the end of 2012 the UK time balance was close to zero.  
February 2013: Steve Heathcote is appointed Director of CTIO 
June 2013: Lori Allen is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Director 
June 2013: Eric Hooper is appointed interim WIYN Director  
August 2013: Valentin M. Pillet is appointed NSO Director  
March 2014: Horacio Dottori is appointed interim SOAR Director  
August 2014: Jay Elias is appointed SOAR Director
March 2015: Matt Mountain is appointed AURA President
April 2015: LSST project's First Stone event 
November 2015: Giant Magellan Telescope groundbreaking ceremony  
December 2016: Australia leaves Gemini  
July 2017: Laura Ferrarese is appointed acting Gemini Director 
February 2018: DESI instrument installation begins on the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope, which involves dismantling major parts of the telescope to convert it to sole-purpose-use for deep and wide spectroscopic surveys with DESI
April 2018 Phil Puxley is appointed interim NCOA (later NOIRLab) Director  
July 2018: Republic of Korea joins Gemini 
July 2018: Beth Willman appointed NOIRLab Deputy Director  
October 2018: Bob Blum is appointed Rubin Observatory Operations Director (Acting) 
October 2018: Jennifer Lotz is appointed Gemini Observatory director   
January 2019: Lori Allen is appointed Acting NOAO Director 
April 2019: DESI First Light 
September 2019: Patrick McCarthy appointed NOIRLab Director 
October 2019: NOIRLab is formed by uniting NOAO, Gemini, CSDC and Vera C. Rubin Observatory operations 
October 2019: Adam Bolton is appointed Director of CSDC 
October 2019: Lori Allen is appointed Director of Mid Scale Observatories (Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory/Kitt Peak National Observatory) 
December 2019: LSST is officially renamed to Vera C. Rubin Observatory in honor of Vera C. Rubin 

2020–2030

March 2020: The global COVID-19 pandemic leads to severe disruptions of the NOIRLab operations and developments 
July 2021: Bob Blum is appointed Rubin Observatory Operations Director 
October 2021: Michelle Edwards is appointed Kitt Peak National Observatory Associate Director   
November 2021: The US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) receives the highest ranking for ground-based projects in the Pathways to Discovery Decadal Survey Report