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4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC 15-20 Sep 2011 The Virgin Islands Robotic Telescope James E. Neff College of Charleston & David Morris University of.

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Presentation on theme: "4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC 15-20 Sep 2011 The Virgin Islands Robotic Telescope James E. Neff College of Charleston & David Morris University of."— Presentation transcript:

1 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011 The Virgin Islands Robotic Telescope James E. Neff College of Charleston & David Morris University of the Virgin Islands

2 Advantages of Virgin Islands Site Latitude (18 o North): permits coverage of northern and southern sky Longitude (65 o West): fills “gap” between US and Europe Stable atmospheric conditions: superb seeing (typically ~ 1”) Predictable conditions: clear for at least a few hours every night Infrastructure and University support 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

3 Latitude 18 o N Longitude 65 o W Elevation 420 m Also in the neighborhood: Arecibo (Puerto Rico) and VLBA (St. Croix) 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

4 Unique Challenges It’s in the tropics: clouds, rain, humidity St. Thomas is fairly remote and expensive (everything must be shipped/flown in) Local culture is challenging to work within required reading: “Don’t Stop the Carnival” by Herman Wouk 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

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6 TELESCOPE 0.5m f/10 Cassegrain Equatorial (long) fork Robotic/Remote/Manual Torus Precision Optics (Optical Mechanics, Inc.) ~10 custom scopes in field “turn- key” observatory design Rigel project (Robert Mutel) 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

7 Filter Wheel + CCD 12 position Torus filter wheel UBVRI ND TiO filters Finger Lakes Instruments camera thermo-electrically cooled Marconi CCD 2048 x x 20 arc-min fov 13.5  m (0.5 arc-sec) pixels back-illuminated; mid-band coated USB controlled 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

8 Dome “Hurricane-hardened” 5-meter Ash dome External Inputs Two Weather Stations: Davis (integrated, real-time) Campbell (on tower, 2 minute) GPS receiver, Web Cams Microwave Internet Connection & wireless LAN in observatory 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

9 Telescope control room 2 linux pc’s; 1 mac laptop air conditioning! classroom & conference room public viewing area Observatory Infrastructure roads, power, water dormitory & apartment telecommunications support auxiliary generator; UPS 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

10 Control System: hardware 5-axis: RA, DEC, focus, filter, dome –each axis includes servo motor, home and limit switches, CSIMC board, amplifier, and ethernet port RA and DEC encoders --> 0.1 arc-sec resolution one serial cable to computer controls everything! no handpaddle: use virtual paddle on laptop pc 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

11 Control System: software Talon (formerly OCAAS) –unix and x-windows based –written by Elwood Downey, Clear Sky Institute –now open source for remote operations, use x-windows or vnc connection to Talon computer includes various command line tools for scheduling, planning, engineering, data analysis, etc. TELSCHED, XOBS, CAMERA, XEPHEM 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

12 Brief History and Status Installation and First Light: November 03 – January 04 Dome automation July 04 Fully operational, but not safe to run unattended: August 08 Developed and tested GCN triggers for GRB afterglows Engineering runs and student projects; Public outreach Now it is overdue for mirror re-coating and some needed refurbishments M42 (1 sec exposure) 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

13 Don’t Stop the Carnival Murphy: “Everything that can go wrong will.” Island Corollary #1: “Even things that can’t...” Corollary #2: “But somehow everything will work out OK in the end, and we will have a great time doing it!” Our long series of “disasters” is now over... 1.Business... 2.Nature... 3.Engineering... 4.Political and Legal... 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

14 Initial Science Operations Continue detailed “micro-climate” studies, and h/w and s/w improvements to improve our weather triggering algorithms GRB optical counterparts Narrow-band photometry to measure starspot area and temperature on active stars in clusters (Neff) We are open to New Ideas and New Collaborations –SSON (Sierra Stars Observatory Network) –mini-SONG !! 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

15 Sierra Stars Observatory Network originally all OMI telescopes, which are easily networked (by design) expanding to other telescopes; both hemispheres private company, but very flexible way to partially finance a small observatory 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

16 “4-College” Automated Photometric Telescope located at... Fairborn Observatory Washington Camp, AZ operated by... College of Charleston The Citadel Villanova University Univ. Nevada Las Vegas 0.75m + filters + photometer 4 th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011

17 For more information, see astro.uvi.edu or contact: Prof. James E. Neff Dept. of Physics & Astronomy College of Charleston Charleston, SC th SONG WORKSHOP Charleston, SC Sep 2011


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