News

NRES commissioning

The first unit of the Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs (NRES) was successfully installed at our Chilean site at the beginning of the month. NRES is not yet ready for routine science observations (updates will be posted on the LCO website), but from now on, commissioning tests should be intermittent and less disruptive. The telescope in Dome C, with a repaired fl04 Sinistro camera, began making routine science observations again on the night of March 14.  The telescope in Dome B was returned to science observing on March 21.

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NRES installation in Chile

As I write this, a crew of LCO engineers, IT specialists, and scientists is traveling to Cerro Tololo. Their mission is to install the first element of the NRES (Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs), as well as to do some site maintenance work. The work will require that they shut off the power to all of our telescopes at the site. The site will be unavailable for science observations on the nights of March 1 & 2. The commissioning of the first NRES element will begin on March 4. The spectrograph will be tested with input from the telescopes in Domes B & C, but it's not yet clear which telescope will be used on which night.

Las Cumbres Observatory Provides Vital Early Observations of a Supernova

Teachers reach for the stars!

Last week (Friday 3 February) the LCO education team hosted a teacher training event in Cardiff University, jointly with School of Physics & Astronomy, Universe in the Classroom, and Space Awareness. It was the not only the largest teacher training event ever run at the School of Physics & Astronomy (with 35 registered teachers from across Wales) but was also our first event as official partners with Space Awareness.

New Key Projects announced

Following the recommendations of an independent Time Allocation Committee (TAC), five new Key Projects have been awarded time on the LCO Network. The list of all key projects that will run during the 2017AB semester has been posted on the website's Science section. 

Call for proposals 2017AB

Las Cumbres Observatory is soliciting proposals for science observations for the 2017AB semester, which will begin on 1 April 2017 and run through 30 November 2017. This call is for astronomers from institutions without guarantees of Network time: the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), the University of Colorado, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC). Astronomers affiliated with LCO, including Time Allocation Committee members and Science Advisory Committee members, are also welcome to submit proposals. (LCO's Science Collaboration partners that have guaranteed time conduct independent proposal solicitations and reviews.)

Network status: Happy Holidays!

The Network suffered a one-two punch of power outages in the past week. On December 17, power was lost on Haleakala. As a result, science observations from that site (OGG) weren't possible on December 17-18. ----- A few days earlier, on December 13, there were power outages that affected all CTIO facilities. Consequently, we made no science observation from our LSC site on December 13-14. Since then, the cameras in Dome B (fl03) and Dome C (fl04) at LSC have been showing unstable temperatures. As a safeguard, we will warm these cameras up tonight (2016-12-21), then inspect and recharge their cryogenic systems tomorrow. Thus, only one camera (fl15, in Dome A) will be available for science observations tonight. We expect to have all cameras available again for the night of 2016-12-22.

"Brightest Supernova” Not a Supernova, but a Star Ripped Apart by a Spinning Black Hole

A version of this article is also available for young scientists! Read it at Spacescoop

Space Scoop comic book contest

As well as being the LCO education team, Sarah Eve Roberts and I are also the team behind Space Scoop, an astronomy news service for kids. Although the primary audience for Space Scoop is kids from the age of 8, we know that many older kids and adults also enjoy reading Space Scoop. Each Scoop is written about a brand discovery in astronomy or space sciences, based on a current press release. We aim to release every Space Scoop at the same time as the research press release is published, that way scientists, journalists and kids all get to hear about exciting space news at the same time.

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