Later in the afternoon Ed drove me up the winding road to
|The shadow of Mt. Lemmon pointing almost directly at the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham 50 miles away (top right in insert)|
As the Sun was setting, Ed opened up the dome of the 1.5-m reflector (observatory code G96) and initialised the equipment before the start of the nights NEO surveying. The 4K x 4K CCD is normally operated at -100C but that temperature has recently been difficult to get down to, an air dryer unit used to extract water from the cooling system suspected of being full of water and needing replacing soon.
Ed Beshore opens up the lower shutter of the
The observer for the night, Alex Gibbs arrived and continued preparing the telescope, running through focussing sequences and also choosing fields in the early evening sky ready for the survey work to start. Two computer flat screen monitors arranged side-by-side displayed the sky divided up into the fixed 1.2 x 1.2 field centres that are used night after night for all the survey work. Settings allowed the areas of sky that CSS and the other surveys such as LINEAR and Spacewatch had covered in recent nights to be colour-coded so that fresh unsurveyed sky could be targeted that evening.
Field centres for the 1.5-m telescope, colour-coded showing where NEO surveying had been done in recent nights by other surveys
Alex clicked on sets of 12 adjacent fields with the mouse, each set of 12 fields would be automatically imaged one after another, going around the set a total of four times. All the images would then be fed into the processing pipeline for automatic moving object detection. Lines on the computer screen marking out 60 elongation from the Sun indicate the westernmost boundary and surveying then proceeds to the east as the night progresses, with the observer manually choosing the areas of sky to be targeted. Earlier in the week Pan-STARRS had been given a complete night dedicated to NEO detection, resulting in 27 Pan-STARRS objects being on the NEO Confirmation Page, most very faint at mag. 22-23 and out of the reach of amateurs. Alex selected some of the sets of survey fields to cover the uncertainty areas where some of the Pan-STARRS objects were located to try and help recover them. As astronomical twilight ended the exposures started and soon the first set of 12 x 4 images had been processed and was ready for examination.
|Alex Gibbs selecting fields at the start of a night of NEO surveying by the 1.5-m Mt. Lemmon telescope|
|Andrea Boattini blinking newly detected moving objects at the controls of the CSS 0.68-m Schmidt|