We recently discovered an error in our BANZAI data pipeline. In the source catalogs (i.e. the .CAT extensions) that accompany the reduced images, the set of FLUXAPER* keywords are used to indicate the source fluxes within circular apertures of * arcseconds in diameter. For example, FLUXAPER3 is the source flux in a 3-arcsec diameter aperture. ----- The error in the pipeline was that the fluxes were being calculated within circular apertures of * pixels (rather than arcseconds) in diameter. So, in the example above, FLUXAPER3 was actually the source flux in a 3-pixel diameter aperture, even though the description in the header said 3-arcsecond diameter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Applications for this internship are now closed
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.
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