5 weeks ago (May 2015) we successfully installed 2 of our 0.4-meter class telescopes on Mount Teide in Tenerife. Since then we have been commissioning these telescopes, getting them ready for autonomous, robotic operations.
Today is Asteroid Day! At LCOGT We have been observing asteroids since the 2005, back when we only had our 2 flagship, 2-meter class telescopes. Asteroid Day is about sharing global awareness of asteroid impacts. So, we are sharing this movie of the past few nights images of (1566) Icarus, an asteroid which passed 5 million miles from Earth (thats 21 times further than the Moon is away). It made its closet approach to the Earth on 16 June 2015, and is now heading in towards the Sun.
Call for proposals to use LCOGT 1m & 2m telescope Network.
Over the past 2 months I have attended 2 conferences about software development. The first, Python in Astronomy, focused on the software tools astronomers have developed to help them to do research and how we can support each other, mostly in Python. The second, DjangoCon Europe, was for developers who are either freelancers or work for software houses. There were almost 10 times as many people at DjangoCon (400) as at Python in Astronomy (50).
You may remember that in 2012 we prepared an observatory site on mount Teide on the island of Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean). Sadly that site has remained empty of LCOGT telescopes. However, are pleased to announce that after a very successful trip we now have not 1 but 2 telescopes there. This trip was very significant for LCOGT in a number of ways; not only have we added a new site to our global network but we have tripled the number of 0.4-meter telescopes we have deployed (the first 0.4-meter was installed at our Chile node in 2014).
A Near Earth Object (NEO), an asteroid which can come close to the Earth, which has been designated 2004 BL86, passed safely past the Earth on January 26 at a distance about three times the distance of Earth to the moon. Less than 11 hours later, one of the LCOGT 1-meter telescopes at Cerro Tololo in Chile was used by Tim Lister to track and image the high speed rock. At the time, the NEO was a little more than 1.3 million kilometers from the Earth and travelling at a speed that meant it would cross the diameter of the Full Moon in less than 15 minutes. The animation consists of a series of 2 second exposure images taken through a broad w-band filter with LCOGT's Sinistro CCD camera. The LCOGT NEO Program has been tracking this and other NEOs in order to provide important position and brightness updates to enable the risk from these objects to be understood and to determine the rotation rate, shape and learn more about these objects and their place in the Solar System.
Call for Proposals for Key Projects to use the LCOGT 1m and 2m telescope networks
Call for Proposals to use the LCOGT 1m & 2m telescope facilities
This week (on 8 December 2014) Eric Saunders, LCOGT software team leader, was invited to speak to 7th grade science class in Santa Barbara Junior High. I volunteered to go along with him to help.
We weren't sure how much science this class would have done, so we thought we would start with showing them some LCOGT telescopes, talking about why astronomers think a global network is a good thing.While we were talking about the globe we did a demo explaining how the seasons work. We used the example from Universe in a Box by Universe Awareness.
Last weekend one of our flagship telescopes, Faulkes Telescope South (FTS), celebrated its 10 year anniversary. For many years FTS was one of only 2 telescopes in the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Consequently it, and its twin Faulkes Telescope North, provided the majority of science and education images and data over the past 10 years.
FTS is located at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia which coincidently is celebrating its 50 year anniversary. To mark the occasion, and also the 40 year anniversary of the Anglo Australian Telescope and the 30 year anniversary of the Advanced Technology Telescope, there was an extra special Star Fest this weekend.
Two members of the Australian arm of the LCOGT telescope operations team, Mark Willis (FTS site manager) and Andrew Pickles, were on hand to give the public tours around the LCOGT installation at Siding Spring. Throughout the whole day they talked to hundreds of people who munched their way through 200 Lamington cakes especially made for the FTS celebration.