New Site, HET Managers at McDonald Observatory

7 January 2005

FORT DAVIS, Texas — Two new managers are taking over the site of The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory. K. Russell Peterman is the Observatory’s superintendent, and Robert Calder is site manager of the 9.2-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), one of the largest optical telescopes in the world. Both managers report to Dr. David L. Lambert, Director of McDonald Observatory.


“I am delighted that we were able to recruit these outstanding individuals to head the McDonald Observatory on Mt. Locke and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope on Mt. Fowlkes,” Lambert said. “I am confident that Russ and Bob will bring a real sense of common purpose to the McDonald Observatory in pursuit of research and public outreach.”

A native of central Texas, Peterman took the helm of the Observatory’s West Texas site on January 3. The superintendent’s job is to “make sure the facilities are properly managed, and that we carry out the mission of the Observatory,” Peterman said.

“I consider it a real privilege to take the job on, and I hope to re-invigorate the mission of the Observatory,” he said. “I look forward to working with David Lambert and Bob Calder.”

Peterman has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from The University of Texas at Austin, and worked as a research scientist at its Applied Research Laboratory in Austin for eight years. Following that, he was the vice president and principal scientist at Radian International in Austin for 20 years. More recently, he has worked for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. He was previously CEO of Peak Weather Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of the foundation which manages NCAR.

Robert Calder began his duties as HET site manager in September. The HET site manager is responsible for the day and night operations of the HET, and leads its staff of 18 who operate, maintain, and support the continued development of the telescope.

Calder is a graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso. Most recently, he served as head of the instrumentation division of the SUBARU Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. He has also worked with many large telescopes at several observatories, including the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Working at McDonald Observatory “is like coming home in more than one respect,” Calder said. “The operations side is very familiar to me, because of my background. And I’m also returning to West Texas, where I attended high school and college.”

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is a joint project of The University of Texas at Austin, The Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Georg-August-Unversität Göttingen.

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Note to editors: Russ Peterman may be reached by phone at 432-426-3263 or by e-mail at Bob Calder may be reached by phone at 432-426-3613, or by e-mail at