Astronomers use Global Telescope Network to Catch a Fleeting Kilonova for the First Time

Artist's illustration of two merging neutron stars. The narrow beams represent the gamma-ray burst while the rippling spacetime grid indicates the isotropic gravitational waves that characterize the merger. Swirling clouds of material ejected from the merging stars are a possible source of the light that was seen at lower energies. Credit:  National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

LCO astronomers help track close-approaching asteroid 2012 TC4

(Animation depicting the flyby of small asteroid 2012 TC4 as it passes under Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Summer Interns Bring Project Serol to Life

The Las Cumbres Observatory education team tripled in size this summer, as four interns joined us to work on an exciting new project for elementary school students called 'Project Serol'.

“Shocking” findings from a supernova illuminate the stellar culprits

Supernova 2017cbv, on the outskirts of the spiral galaxy NGC 5643. Data are from the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Supernova Project and the Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey. Credit: BJ Fulton, LCO.

The situation at LSC

We have had to discontinue observations with the telescope in Dome C at our Chilean site (LSC). The Sinistro camera in that dome (fl04) appeared to have a steep drop in temperature on 2017-05-07. The drop was actually a symptom of a problem with a circuit boards on the camera controller. A replacement board has been sent to Chile; the camera will be offline until the swap can be made.

FLOYDS "sky" mode fixed

We have debugged the "Sky" slit positioning mode on FLOYDS. "Sky" mode allows you to fix the position angle of the slit. (The more commonly-used mode sets the slit at the parallactic angle.) The change will take effect with FLOYDS observations beginning tonight (2017-04-28) on Maui.

Network status: FLOYDS, default airmass; TDA workshop

It's already the third week of the 2017AB semester. In a break with routine, this semester will be 8 months long, ending on November 30. As in past semesters, if you'd like assistance with preparing your observing requests, please email our Science Support team.
Our community of FLOYDS users has expanded this semester, so we're putting extra effort into supporting FLOYDS. We've revised the FLOYDS webpage, and we've added a page describing the FLOYDS data pipeline. In addition, we want to make FLOYDS users aware of the following:
  • The Sky (slit positioning) mode isn't working properly. We're actively working on fixing it.
  • We will soon retire the qualitative descriptions of the slit sizes, e.g. "Floyds_large_slit", "Floyds_extra_large_slit". The quantitative descriptions (1.2, 1.6, 2.0, 6.0 arcsec) are exact and less likely to confuse. 

Robotic Telescopes in Education

Using robotic telescopes for astronomy education is something that is at the heart of my professional interests and I have been actively working on this during my nine years at LCO. This week, my collaborator Dr Michael Fitzgerald and I published a review paper on the subject in the journal, The Astronomical Review.

BBC Stargazing Australia features LCO

People living in the UK and some Northern European countries  have been treated to 3 live TV shows about astronomy this week, presented by BBC Stargazing Australia. All of the shows were broadcast live from Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, where LCO has an observatory site. The TV show was hosted by particle physicist Prof Brian Cox and comedian Dara O'Briain. 

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