Keck Telescopes to seek funding on 20th anniversary

The W.M. Keck Observatory, which has the two largest optical and infrared telescopes in the world, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. Its twin Keck telescopes have been instrumental to finding exoplanets, exploring the universe, and observing galaxies. They are highly coveted telescopes, with scientists, who are working on research projects, only being able to use the telescope two days out of the entire year.

However, despite its immense popularity, the W.M. Keck Observatory will be seeing some financial set backs this year, and in anticipation of that, the Keck foundation will be working hard to secure donations from philanthropists. The observatory receives about 1/4th of its money from the U.S. National Science Foundation. However, because of so many federal budget cuts, that number could be reduced immensely.

While the observatory will still have a set $11.5 million from the University of California, and the California Institute of Technology, it still relies on government funding to pull through. Philanthropists usually give about $5 million a year to the Keck Observatory, bringing its finances to roughly about $23 million a year, however it needs philanthropists to give even more this year. The Keck Foundation hopes that since it's the observatory's 20th anniversary, people will be more generous with their checkbooks.

The Keck telescopes have done a lot for the field of astronomy, from "co-discovering the methane on Mars to charting the acceleration of the universe." The telescopes will be facing tough competition within the next decade, so it needs more financing than ever to compete. The observatory plans on putting in a new laser system for its Keck II telescope in 2015, as well as launch a cosmic web imager within the next 5 years.