Abstract Details

Title: Remote and Robotic Operation of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory 1.2-m Telescope and McKellar Spectrograph

Authors: David Bohlender, Dmitry Monin And Les Saddlemyer

Abstract Submitted by: David Bohlender

Institute/Affiliation: National Research Council Of Canada

Abstract Type: talk

Abstract Information:

We present a summary of efforts to automate the operation of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory\'s (DAO) 1.2-m telescope located at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, BC. The telescope is used exclusively for the acquisition of stellar spectra with the McKellar coudé spectrograph, configurable with a variety of gratings and cameras to provide resolutions up to R=60,000. Starting in 2004, approximately 30% of the time allocated on the telescope has been conducted robotically on a shared-risk basis. The telescope can also be operated by staff remotely from anywhere in the world. Incremental enhancements have enabled increasingly sophisticated remote, automated operation of the telescope and subsequent data processing including radial velocity measurements. Future planned improvements include an increase of the wavelength coverage and maximum resolution with the acquisition of new CCDs, integration of the DAO all-sky camera and cloud detection software with the automated operation of the telescope, improvements in target selection and tracking, and real-time archiving and processing of the acquired spectra. Programs conducted with the automated system have included continuous monitoring of single bright stars, bi-weekly and monthly monitoring of spectrum variables as faint as V=10.5, and surveys consisting of hundreds of targets.