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Proceedings Paper

A portable observatory for persistent monitoring of the night sky
Author(s): James Wren; W. Thomas Vestrand; Przemek Wozniak; Heath Davis
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Paper Abstract

We describe the design and operation of a small, transportable, robotic observatory that has been developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This small observatory, called RQD2 (Raptor-Q Design 2), is the prototype for nodes in a global network capable of continuous persistent monitoring of the night sky. The observatory employs five wide-field imagers that altogether view about 90% of the sky above 12 degrees elevation with a sensitivity of R=10 magnitude in 10 seconds. Operating robotically, the RQD2 system acquires a nearly full-sky image every 20 seconds, taking more than 10,000 individual images per night. It also runs real-time astrometric and photometric pipelines that provide both a capability to autonomously search for bright astronomical transients and monitor the variability of optical extinction across the full sky. The first RQD2 observatory began operation in March 2009 and is currently operating at the Fenton Hill site located near Los Alamos, NM.We present a detailed description of the RQD2 system and the data taken during the first several months of operation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2010
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7737, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems III, 773723 (29 July 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.859039
Show Author Affiliations
James Wren, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
W. Thomas Vestrand, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Przemek Wozniak, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Heath Davis, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7737:
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems III
David R. Silva; Alison B. Peck; B. Thomas Soifer, Editor(s)

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