Low-Light Calibration Source for the Prairie View Observatory

September 26, 2021

Interesting work being done at the Prairie View Observatory in Texas:

What’s Up – Solar Observatory: https://www.pvamu.edu/pvso/cosmic-corner/whats-up/

The Prairie View Observatory complex (PVOc) was completed early this year, 2020. The PVOc consists of two separate piers aligned east-west. A dedicated solar observatory is located just to the south (Prairie View Solar Observatory (PVSO) which began operation in 1999 and was renovated in 2017). The west (18-ft) and south (16-ft) domes are Ash domes, while the east dome (20-ft) is an Astrohaven clamshell dome. The two new piers reach 24 ft above ground level and have a vibration amplitude not to exceed 0.485 arc sec, allowing for high (pixel) resolution imaging. The current primary instruments of PVOc include a PlaneWave 24-in CDK telescope in the west dome, a Meade 16-in Cassegrain in the east dome, and PVSO’s 35-cm Vacuum Solar Telescope in the south dome. In addition, an observing pad providing power and internet is located on the east end of the complex. The observatory building features a two-story visitor’s center, flanked on both the east and west sides by workrooms on the ground level and control rooms and access to the domes on the mezzanine level. The solar observation program that had been carried out for so many years with the PVSO has resumed, and since January of this year we have been conducting routine solar observations from the east dome with our 16-in telescope as well. In addition to daytime solar observations, the east dome has seen many evenings of activity as we work to test and build the capabilities of the instruments and imaging system. Once the PVOc is fully online, it will be capable of a wide array of astronomical projects that will involve faculty, students, and the public. We have one additional 16-in Meade and one 14-in Meade, along with several other telescopes for outside, ground-level viewing. Finally, in collaboration with NASA-JSC over the past ten years we developed cameras for advanced astro-imaging. We are also equipped with a state-of-the-art, low-light calibration source manufactured by LabSphere. This system provides an extremely uniform low-light source for calibrating imaging systems. We present our first light images from our PVOc along with a few calibrated images with our cameras developed for astro-imaging.

 (from the abstract The Prairie View Observatory: First Light by B. Cudnik, M. Rahman, G. Erickson, P. Saganti, S.D. Holland, et al)
Abstract: https://www.aavso.org/apps/jaavso/article/3679/