Viewing posts from June, 2012
The recently installed 1-meter telescope at McDonald Observatory has helped confirm its first two new Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Both were candidates from PanSTARRS, and were followed up by a number of observatories including LCOGT. The first object, initially called P103Jah was detected by PanSTARRS on June 10th and followed-up by Tim Lister on June 12. The object was officially designated as 2012 LK2 the next day. The object is quite large (~1.3km diameter) and on a very eccentric orbit which brings it within 0.35 AU of the Earth (Link to M.P.E.C.).
This week’s interview is with Eric Saunders.
Jessica Barton: What is your job title?
Eric Saunders: Software engineer.
JB: What does your work at LCOGT involve?
ES: I work on the scheduler for our robotic telescope network. It’s a pretty unusual software job - it’s very abstract and crosses the line into research. We don’t know exactly how to do what we want to do, so it’s constantly evolving and changing. I have also been involved with the weather visualization project, and currently, the visualization of some of the scheduler’s many aspects.
I represented LCOGT in a four days roadshow astronomy outreach program in three towns (Sutherland, Williston and Fraserburg) near the home of the LCOGT telescopes in Sutherland, South Africa. Organised by the Cape Town Science centre, SAAO and LCOGT, the event created to participants an opportunity to develop and expand their understanding about our and other solar systems in the Universe.
The first Folded Low Order whYte-pupil Double-dispersed Spectrograph (FLOYDS, for short) was commissioned at Faulkes Telescope South (FTS) at Siding Spring Observatory during the first two weeks of May, and
first light was achieved on May 7th. FLOYDS is a spectrograph, which means that it does more than take a picture, it splits incoming light into it constituent wavelengths (just like a prism splits light into the colors of the rainbow; in fact, FLOYDS uses a prism!) so that the astronomer can get a more detailed view of the make-up and physics of the target.
The month of May (and through the beginning of June) was quite busy for star parties. There were four held at Sedgwick and one at Photon Ranch (up in the hills above Santa Barbara). Thank you to everyone who helped plan and attended these events. All the events turned out fantastic even those that didn't quite have cooperating weather or equipment.