22 Jul 2016 - Frederic Hessman
The communications fibre by which the camera talks with it’s computer appears to be damaged - we’re in the process of
UPDATE 2016-AUG-02: the broken fibre has been replaced - we should resume operations soon!
UPDATE 2016-AUG-17: the fibre is replaced, but the camera has to be pumped down due a loss of power. (sigh)
29 May 2016 - Tim-Oliver Husser
Update: We continue to have the problem (e.g. May 31-June 1) - the intermediate solution (until we can take a
look at the hardware) will be to re-initialize the filterwheel positioning regularly, which requires a software update
(to be made very soon!). Until then, we will have the situation that the filterwheel should be OK at the beginning of
the night (hardware reset by hand!) but may fail and shift the filter sometime thereafter during the night. (sigh)
Update: In the following night (May 29-30) we still had the problem, but now it should be solved.
Last night (May 28-29) the filterwheel glitch appeared again. Technicians at SAAO power cycled the telescopes this
afternoon and it seems that everything is working fine again. However, your images from that night have most likely
been observed in the wrong filter.
12 May 2016 - Frederic Hessman
With most of our technical problems solved, MONET/South is finally actively participating in an international campaign
to find planets around very distant stars near the center of our galaxy.
As part of the MiNDTSTEp collaboration lead by the Niels Bohr Institute/DK and the Univ. of St. Andrews/UK, we are
intensively following the short-lived increases in the light of distant stars caused by the gravity of an intervening
but otherwise invisible star: the curvature of space-time around the star acts like a giant lens, magnifying the light
of the background star. Because the effect is small, we can’t resolve the (terrible!) image of the lensed star, but
we can see the increase in brightness - the effect is thus called “micro-lensing”. If the lensing star has a planetary
system, the planets can also add to the effects, albeit very weakly. Thus, it is important that the measurements are
very carefully made.
Dr. Markus Hundertmark in Copenhagen, a former student of ours and an expert in this field, has taken over the difficult
task of analysing the MONET/South images and extracting very accurate lightcurves. Here’s a plot of one of our initial
targets showing that the first MONET points (black; the yellow points are from our polish colleagues from OGLE) are a
real contribution due to their accuracy!
The current campaign is being made in collaboration with a large team which includes the use of NASA’s Kepler and
Spitzer satellites, so we are devoting a LOT of time to these targets. Please be patient if MONET/South’s attention
to your projects is temporarily decreased - the Galactic Bulge region being imaged will eventually become unobservable
and we can return to business-as-usual!
10 May 2016 - Frederic Hessman
On May 4th, MONET/South suffered from a filterwheel glitch that resulted in the filters being off by one slot (e.g. B
was really V, V was really R, etc.). We don’t know what happened, but the filterwheel has been reset.
Please monitor your images and report anything suspicious.
01 Apr 2016 - Frederic Hessman
MONET/South is now practically fully operational after re-commissioning (new camera, new pointing model, new focus
model,….)! Users can start submitting southern targets and creating southern projects immediately. Unlike
MONET/North, our Sutherland telescope has a science-grade camera with much better image quality (lower read-out noise,
less dark-current) and a much larger field (12’).
There are bound to be a few glitches during the first few weeks (e.g. the focus model is not yet good enough and we’re
not quite ready for long open-loop-guiding exposures) so usage is on a best-effort basis only.