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Proceedings Paper

Laser guide stars for daytime thermal IR observations
Author(s): Jacques M. Beckers
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Paper Abstract

In connection with the planning for Extremely Large Telescopes, I revisit a 2001 paper in which Cacciani and I describe the use of Sodium Laser Guide Stars (LGSs) for diffraction limited daytime astronomical observations. The enabling technology for seeing LGSs in broad daylight is the availability of very narrow band magneto-optical filters. Considering the dominance of the atmospheric scattering of sunlight at wavelengths below 3.5 μm, daytime use is only indicated for mid- and thermal IR observations. The launch of the 6.5 meter aperture James Web Space Telescope (JWST) appears to be assured and planned for 2013, preceding the most optimistic projections for the completion date of the first ELT. The projected thermal background of the JWST is very much less than that of ground-based telescopes so that any competing ground-based observations are limited to those parameters not covered by the JWST: angular resolution (requiring apertures > 6.5 meter) and spectral resolution (R>3000). I compare the benefits of daytime observations with Na-LGS equipped telescopes and interferometers at moderate latitudes and in the Antarctic (specifically Dome C). In both cases daytime observations extend the amount of observing time available for TIR observations. Antarctic observations have the advantage of having very good seeing during the daytime, significantly better than nighttime seeing. In contrast the seeing at moderate latitude sites significantly deteriorates during daytime resulting in lower quality observations than during nighttime. In addition Antarctic sites are less hostile to maintenance and operations during daytime (summer) observations as compared to nighttime (winter) observations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 April 2008
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6986, Extremely Large Telescopes: Which Wavelengths? Retirement Symposium for Arne Ardeberg, 69860G (22 April 2008);
Show Author Affiliations
Jacques M. Beckers, Univ. of Washington (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6986:
Extremely Large Telescopes: Which Wavelengths? Retirement Symposium for Arne Ardeberg
Torben E. Andersen, Editor(s)

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