Tuesday, April 29, 2014

observing galaxies with a 4-metre telescope

here's a video i created in about the last 24 hours.   it has been a fun little project with a hack day feel :)

it shows scenes from one night observing galaxies with the 4-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia.  

all of the footage was taken with a GoPro camera and edited together with imovie.


SAMI is the Sydney Australian Astronomical Observatory Multi-object Integral Field Spectrograph, a brand new instrument on the 4-meter AAT.  Integral field spectroscopy allows a unique view of how stars and gas zoom around inside distant galaxies because we collect dozens of spectra across the entire face of each galaxy.

The new technology includes the bundles of wires shown in orange and silver which plug into the metal plate. In the silver cords are 61 optical fibres! One bundle points at a single galaxy and captures its stars and gas swirling around in 61 different spots across the face of the galaxy! There are 13 of these galaxy hexabundles, making the survey uniquely efficient.

The new technology has been designed to fit inside the original photographic plate base structure built in the 1970s. It looks solid, doesnt it? I like all the manual dials, and there's even an eyepiece!

The only negative is that after observing with one configuration for 4 hours (in a series of 30 minute exposures), we have to climb into the cage in the middle of the night to manually unplug and replug a different plate. It's an active observing campaign!

This footage was shot on the night of 27 April 2014, the 40th Anniversary of the first starlight ever collected by the AAT.


Daniel Fischer said...

Great job! Every professional astronomer visiting a telescope should be required to deliver such an inspiring "dome video" ... ;-)

StuntTrader said...

Liked the way you stuck your little pinkie out :)

heroineworshipper said...

That looked really tedious. Wonder why the spun it around once.

superkuh said...

That was really cool. It is not very often that one gets to see the inner workings and actual mechanical set-up of a such a large telescope like that.