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TOAST Transient Object Automated Search Telescope Timothy Young Tricia Johnson Chris Milford Rob Czapiewski Department of Physics Michael Sprengeler Concordia.

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Presentation on theme: "TOAST Transient Object Automated Search Telescope Timothy Young Tricia Johnson Chris Milford Rob Czapiewski Department of Physics Michael Sprengeler Concordia."— Presentation transcript:

1 TOAST Transient Object Automated Search Telescope Timothy Young Tricia Johnson Chris Milford Rob Czapiewski Department of Physics Michael Sprengeler Concordia Lohit Gaddampolly Department of Computer Science Michael Gerszewski Ryan Kramer Space Studies

2 Funding Faculty Start-up NASA (match Provost, Physics and Space Studies) AAS (American Astronomical Society) Dakota Science Center Physics Space Studies

3 Briefly what TOAST is 10” MEADE telescope Dome – Robo-dome Camera – CCD ST-7e Santa Barbara Instrumentation Group Filter Wheel – BVRI, clear Software – TheSky, CCDsoft, DDW, Orchestrate, Lohit-Young software.

4 Timeline November 2000 – Toast originally was two telescopes combined in a roll-off roof. The proposal was rejected. April 2001 - CCD Camera and filter wheel purchased. Summer 2001 - REU – 8” Meade telescope on top of Witmer. Michael Sprengeler. Software – control telescope, camera, and new software to automate the system.

5 ST-7e 765 x 510 pixels 390,000 6.9 x 4.6 mm

6 Software Provides connection to telescope Provides connection to camera Coordinates actions of CCDSoft and TheSky

7 Up on the roof at Witmer

8 Timeline August 2001 – first test of automation mode. 60 asteroids were observed in a single night. Some in multiple filters. Second test (next night)– focuser went out. Ended the testing

9 Timeline Summer 2001 – contracted concrete foundation and concrete pier. Design the metal pier. No money for power and ethernet cables, which had to wait until spring.

10 Side View 40” To Trailer 2 ½ feet ½ foot 4 ½ feet Robo-dome Dome Robo-Dome base Concrete Foundation (to be constructed) Concrete base (to be constructed) Concrete Base (Width 4-5 inches) Top View 10 feet Power Cable & Ethernet 50” Concrete Foundation Telescope pier: Concrete 12 foot with 12” diameter

11 Timeline September 2001- Redesign base. Trips to Witmer basement. Designing a mount without seeing the wedge that sits on it. October 2001 – Dome arrives. Where to put it? PSO was not ready, so Graeme Dewar’s Lab.

12 ROBO-DOME ™ from Technical Innovations, Inc. Dome automation with be through Digital Domeworks Specifications  Works in cold climates (Fairbanks, Alaska)  Slaves to telescope, fits up to 10” Meade  About 4 ½ Feet in Height  About the same in Diameter



15 Timeline January 2002, Money for the cables, but had the work order in since Dec. In April I call, never got it. In May they say they are booked until October. I call and say we need it immediately, we get a break and it is completed over the summer.


17 Timeline Nov 2001 – present: Dome testing. Dome computer board was sent back twice. Relay problem Software incompatibility Dome Azimuth gear wore out. Dome 2 modes of operation, not working. Company changed ownership. UND had gotten the last Robo-dome from the original owner.

18 Timeline February 2002 – present: Computer 1.8 GHz Pentium IV (2) 60 GB HD 256 SDRAM Projected image down load – 500KB 60 images 5 filters. Fill both drives in 3 months.

19 Connections: Camera – Parallel port Telescope – serial port Dome – serial port Webcam – USB Ethernet – card Problem – needed to turn off some appliances. Firecracker – remote power switches But needed serial ports.


21 Timeline February 2002 - Automation: Needed a program to run the other programs and organize an observing run. Lohit is hired to write software. It access an object database of 88,000 and organizes an observing run based on time rises, sets, limiting magnitude. Then places the data into an appropriate folder at the initiation of the observing run. Lowel Obs.

22 Timeline March 2002 - We install all programs. We install VNC We get Hacked and virus We load a firewall

23 Telescope Meade LX200 10” telescope f/6.3 –Limiting magnitude – 16.5 - 17.0 SBIG ST-7E CCD –FOV size (10’X15’) CFW-8 filter wheel Johnson BVRI

24 Timeline June 2002 – AAS - 10” GPS scope arrives July 2002 – Sent back to Meade. August 2002 – Doesn’t work with Dome software. Board for dome gets sent back.During scope test condensation needed to be removed. Dew Zapper.








32 Trailer Tree18 inch 16 inch TOAST Gate Proposed Site: 1View of the South 2Not too close to road PSO Grounds layout

33 Timeline November 2002:Finally everything is at the observatory. Barely fits. Computer needs keyboard…. But also monitor? As we change out equipment and do checks we take off the dome. The synthetic fiber track falls off. The top dome part comes back to Witmer and re-glued.

34 On cold winter nights in the observatory trailer– this is what happens You turn into an elf 1)No insulation 2)A small heater – never heats up 3)No bathroom 4)No water 5)Equivalent to a research station in Antarctica

35 Motivation Why do this? There are other, bigger telescopes that do this. But there is nothing like having your own.

36 TOAST First Light Image(remote) Thursday February 27, 2003

37 Purpose Originally: to automatically obtain follow-up observations on Minor Planets Now: Search for other transients – Supernovae, Novae, Comets, and gamma- ray bursts.

38 Goals Procedure: 1) Obtain asteroid information from MPC 2) Observe critical/follow-up asteroids 3) Astrometry and Mag. (also bands) 4) Send data back to MPC Research telescope – transient objects Faculty and students

39 Galatea-74

40 SN 1999em

41 Gamma-ray Bursts

42 Student Involvement -digital image analysis -computer programming -astronomy -problem solving

43 Sequence of events During the day TOAST calculates an observing schedule Comes online 1 hour after sunset. Lohit-Young program sent to Orchestrate Downloads to local computer 1 hour before sunset the system shuts off. Morning student identifies transient objects.

44 Discovery Algorithms Automation to be determined: How to put in a repeat observations How to analyze the data in real time. Send out email for new object.

45 Closing remarks Reactions to TOAST Michael Meyer Steward Observatory UofA “We don’t even do that at Kitt Peak, it’s too hard” Alex Filippenko UC-Berkeley “That is really neat, I need pictures of this” Dr. Granzio UofChicago “There are not many of these around, you need to get on the HETE first alert system”

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