Dr. Ed Wiley Named Director of RAS Observatory (RASO), a New Mexico Based Astronomical Research Center

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Wiley brings to RASO a varied and rich mixture of unique experience and qualities. Wiley's research background in biology lends itself very well to the rigors of the various aspects of astronomical data acquisition, reduction, analysis and publication.

Nestled high atop the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico, at 7,300 feet, rests a special astronomical research facility run by the Remote Astronomical Research Society. The RAS Observatory, or RASO as it is affectionately called by many of the international observers that use this cutting edge equipped facility, has named Dr. Ed Wiley, Ph.D. of The University of Kansas, as its new director.

Wiley an ardent astronomy enthusiast since purchasing his first 60mm refractor in 1958, is actually by profession a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. Presently, while on the faculty of The University of Kansas, Dr. Wiley is also the Curator of Fishes at the Biodiversity Research Center, The University of Kansas, located in Lawrence, Kansas.

Ed brings to RASO a varied and rich mixture of unique experience and qualities. His research background in biology lends itself very well to the rigors of the various aspects of astronomical data acquisition, reduction, analysis and publication.

Dr. Wiley earned his Ph.D. from City University of New York in 1976 in a joint City College/American Museum of Natural History program in evolutionary and systematic biology with a specialty in evolution, biogeography and systematics of fishes. Since graduation from City University, Ed has authored over 120 research papers and three books in systematics, biogeography and evolutionary biology.

Dr. Wiley has indicated his first order of business is to communicate with the current research body at RASO to appraise and analyze the current status of research at the observatory. Wiley commented, “Researchers at RASO already have submitted several thousand observations in 2005 alone. Some of these observations involved the discovery of hundreds of new asteroids along with detections and confirmations of many potential earth threatening NEO’s to the Minor Planet Center (MPC). Additional research has been conducted and reported to various other world-wide organizations responsible for the gathering and cataloging of different types of research activities.” Dr. Wiley further commented, “We want to insure that all areas of interest are included; that we have not overlooked any special areas. It is very important to us at RASO that our researchers have the maximum opportunity to achieve their personal and collective goals.”

Dr. Wiley will directly manage the current ongoing programs and be deeply involved with expanding the current efforts to attract new amateur entrants into the field of astronomical research. Dr. Wiley has indicated he will be working through existing specialized organizations to accomplish this objective.

Ed’s personal area of research, neglected double stars, will become much of his research focus. He is currently engaged in the calibration of the 5 remotely operated systems available at RASO.

Dr. Wiley commented, “It is truly amazing what the RASO team has already accomplished with such modest sized aperture instruments.” Wiley added, “In conjunction with a sister organization of researchers, ICRAR, there are some very exciting ongoing research projects actively being conducted by several collaborating international teams.”    

All 5 current research systems at RASO consist of state of the art, Takahashi optical systems in conjunction with chilled CCD sensors by SBIG and FLI. Multiple filter systems are routinely employed to capture data in some special, spectral regions. Many of the instruments are equipped with the Bessel UBVRI based filters. Additional research is also being conducted in some more discrete frequencies within the visual spectrum associated with the Ha, SII and the OIII spectral ranges.

Speaking today, Dr. Wiley said: “This is an amazing opportunity for me. I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to be involved with such a fine group of enthusiastic and productive amateur and professionals engaged in the pursuit of science.” Wiley further indicated his intentions to survey the current research community at RASO to help determine the future direction of the institution. Ed added, “My main objective is to be sensitive to the opportunities and at the same time aggressively pursue achievement of our core values…the reason RASO exists in the first place.

Our core values of which we speak are:

  •     Maintain a supportive environment
  •     Provide technical support
  •     Provide access to first-rate research tools
  •     Provide cost efficient research rates
  •     Provide 24/7 access to international research coordination

Wiley added, “This is a very exciting time for those interested in amateur research. The technological advances in both software and equipment have provided unprecedented opportunities in the development of remote astronomical observing.” Ed added, “Through the innovative integration of various readily available hardware and software components, the cost of remote observing has been reduced to an affordable level where almost any research objective conceived can be realized in a most cost effective manner.”

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Arnie Rosner
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