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After nearly eight years of design, fabrication and development, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) installed three 1-meter telescopes at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and achieved first light on all three in a span of less than 30 hours last week.
Deployment Project Lead Engineer, Annie Hjelstrom, has been on site with a team of four from Las Cumbres since September 27, installing, integrating, and collimating the three 1-meter telescopes. The team achieved first light on two of the telescopes two weeks later on October 10th.
Fig 1. First light from LCOGT Dome B of 47Tuc
Fig 2. First light from LCOGT Dome C of NGC1365w
The third telescope achieved first light one day later. Rachel Ross, Science Operations at LCOGT put together an RGB image of Messier 30 (M30 or NGC 7099) using the telescope its first night on-sky.
LCOGT is a private, nonprofit science institute engaged in time domain astrophysics. The LCOGT Science team, led by Science Director Tim Brown, has published extensively on exoplanets, supernovae, and minor planet research. The organization owns and operates the two 2-meter Faulkes Telescopes, and is in the midst of deploying a large global network of 1-meter telescopes.“The 1-meter telescope network adds a critical astronomical resource,” says Brown. “Because the network will span both hemispheres, and because one or more LCOGT nodes will always be in the dark, astronomers can observe from anywhere on earth at nearly any time. Also, these telescopes -- robotic, responsive, and numerous -- will allow massive but carefully-directed observing campaigns that could never be done before.”
Fig 5. Dome A with the 1-meter telescope installed.
Fig 6. Time-exposure of all three Las Cumbres CTIO domes
When the network is complete, LCOGT will have up to 15 1-meter telescopes installed around the world. While the first one is already performing science observations at McDonald Observatory in Texas, the first complete observatory nodes are in the southern hemisphere. With the first three telescopes functional in Chile, the next three are in manufacturing and will ship to the South Africa Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) before year’s end. Two more will ship to Siding Spring Observatory in Australia after the new year.About a third of the network science time in the southern hemisphere is dedicated to the astronomy program of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, and specifically to St. Andrews University. St. Andrews has worked with LCOGT over the last seven years on an exoplanet identification and characterization program using the Faulkes Telescopes and is interested in expanding that program onto a larger network. Other science partnerships are anticipated.“We're very much looking forward to getting the 1-meter network commissioned for science,” LCOGT staff astronomer Rachel Street said. “These telescopes are ideal for the exoplanet characterization, supernovae follow-up and solar system studies our teams specialize in.”
Science contact:Rachel Streetrstreet@lcogt.net805-880-1631Engineering contact:Matt Dubberleymdubberley@lcogt.net805-880-1607