Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Perfect Winters Night

On Thursday the 26th of June, Jonathan Green headed out to Kumeu Observatory early so he could grab more flat field calibration image files, before he left home he had copied the coordinates of the latest microlensing targets, after taking the flats he checked where the targets were located, only to find they were all still below the tree line so instead of wasting time waiting for them to rise he slewed to the star cluster Westerlund 2 and grabbed 20 x 100 second exposures, by the time that was done the galactic bulge had cleared the trees so he then immediately set about collecting microlensing data, but before he got started he re-focused the imaging system to a FWHM of 1.5 arc seconds per pixel on a magnitude 8.6 star, Jonathan imaged the target OGLE-2017-BLG-1135 until he hit the meridian, he was joined out at the observatory by Steve Hennerley just after 10 pm, while waiting for our targets to pass the meridian Steve and Jonathan used the break to find our target stars we were a little bit concerned that the signal we were recording wasn't strong enough but after a quick phone call to Grant Christie he assured us that our images would provide useful photometry, Steve ended up heading home around 1 am with the understanding that Jonathan would send him all the calibrated data from the night to be readied for submission, I think this is a method that we will employ from now on, after a full nights imaging you feel really tired and that's when mistakes happen so best to have someone who is fresh in the morning to go over the data and make sure it's all sent off correctly, although Steve also showed Jonathan how to prepare the data for submission just in case he ever needs to do it himself.

After preforming the meridian flip we changed targets to OGLE-2017-BLG-1161 as Grant had mentioned that this was the priority target, we ended up getting 34 x 500 second exposures of this target before it got into the fog and mist of the western horizon, we got 32 x 500 second exposures of the OGLE-2017-BLG-1135 target and we also managed to grab 8 x 500 second exposures of OGLE-2017-BLG-0019, one thing I noticed over the night was that some images would not automatically solve in PinPoint so I think we might need to adjust our settings in PinPoint when solving images in the bulge, by 5am I was losing my guide star due to the mist and clouds that were hanging around low in the West, so this was a natural stopping point for the nights imaging. I calibrated all our data and copied it onto a USB data stick, shut down the dome and headed home around 5:30am, when I got home I immediately copied the data onto my computer and sent the files to Steve via the We-Transfer file transfer service, all in all it was a very productive night and I was happy to see when I woke up an e-mail from Grant saying that he had no problem running our images of OGLE-2017-BLG-1161 through Pysis and that the photometry looked good, we are now looking forward to the next clear night so that we can capture the normalisation data for our new targets.

<- The Galactic Bulge not long before Jonathan stopped for the night, thin clouds and fog made auto-guiding impossible and with not being able to auto-guide he couldn't continue capturing 300 second exposures anymore, so this became a natural stopping point.

Posted By Jonathan Green

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