MONET/South camera (fibre?) problems

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 fixing/replacing it.

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)


MONET/South filterwheel glitch #3

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.


MONET/South joins international microlensing campaign

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!

QOB160086 light curve

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!


MONET/South filterwheel glitch

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.

No April Fools joke - MONET/South now operational!

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.