The Weizmann Institute of Science’s Martin S. Kraar Observatory, named after the former Executive Vice President of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (1998-2008), resides on top of the service tower of the Koffler Accelerator building in the center of the Weizmann Institute campus in Rehovot, Israel. This is the Institute's most famous landmark, visible from everywhere on campus and outside. The observatory was officially inaugurated in March, 2011.
The observatory’s primary mission is to serve for educational purposes, although it has been used for scientific research as well. In order to cater to the needs of remotely located users, the observatory is designed and equipped to be remotely operated, with no observer present in the observatory. All aspects of the observatory’s operation, including the telescope, the digital camera and all auxiliary equipment, can be remotely activated from anywhere through the Internet.
Although it is relatively new, the Martin S. Kraar observatory has already participated in, and contributed vital data to, several scientific discoveries. The observatory was among the first in the world to image the Type IIb supernova which exploded in nearby galaxy M51 at the end of May, 2011.
In addition, as part of the uFUN micro-lensing exoplanets survey, in August 2011 it was in the right location to register uniquely the telltale of a planet signature when its host star went through a micro-lensing event.
Tens of high-school students, preparing science projects in astronomy, use the observatory to obtain many nights of useful data. The observatory is also used for as a test-bed for new astronomical instrumentation developed at the department of Particle Phsyics and Astrophysics.
The Martin S. Kraar observatory is operated under the auspices of the Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, and The Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Astrophysics. It is also supported financially by The Helen Kimmel Center for Planetary Science and the Kraar Foundation. It is managed by Mr. Ilan Manulis.