A fantastic night at Keck observatory – A follow-up

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Hello,

Yesterday I was observing at Keck Observatory as you could read in my previous post. I was not very positive when I wrote my post since the summit was in the fog and clouds. A few minutes after I finished writing it up it got clear and we could open the telescope just on time to start observing (see the allsky picture below). This post is a brief report about what happened last night.

A picture from the all-sky camera taken at 912pm HST. Not a cloud, no fog! :-)

A picture from the all-sky camera taken at 912pm HST. Not a cloud, no fog! :-)

The main program of my night was to search for binary S-type asteroids. It was a challenging and stressful night since I was preparing the observation, collecting data and processing them in the same time  to make sure that we don’t miss a binary (they are not easy to see even after the high quality data collected with the adaptive Optics system). Indeed if we see something which could be a moonlet of an asteroid, we re-observe the asteroid a few minutes/hours later to confirm it.

In summary, with the help of Jason, telescope operator at the summit, and Grant, the support astronomer at Waimea (where the remote control room of the Keck observatory is located), we observed 34 different asteroids, ~75 % of them are classified as S-type. We also observed a volcanic eruption on Io and the scare of Jupiter impact. It was therefore a very busy night.

In reference to my previous post, I confirm that I observed the asteroids Helena and Tolosa. They are not binary but they  did bring me good luck! We discovered something even more interesting than a binary. Right now, I am trying to find a way to analyze the data considering that I am also in vacation… :-) I will write another post in a few days when it is confirmed.

Below a few lousy pictures that I took early this morning with my iphone. You can see the Keck Observatory headquarter and the summit of the Mauna Kea. We are really lucky to be able to observe in this place.

I am going to enjoy another interesting part of being in Hawaii to recover from this night. Beach time!

Franck M.

The Keck Observatory headquarter where the remote control room is located (Waimea, HI)

The Keck Observatory headquarter where the remote control room is located (Waimea, HI)

The Mauna Kea summit as seen from the Keck HQ. You can distinguish the telescope domes on the top (you need to zoom in)

The Mauna Kea summit as seen from the Keck HQ. You can distinguish the telescope domes on the top (you need to zoom in)

About Franck Marchis

Dr. Franck Marchis is a Researcher at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute since July 2007. Over the past 15 years, he has dedicated his research to the study of our solar system using mainly ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. More recently he has been also involved in the definition of new generation of AOs for 8 -10 m class telescopes and future Extremely Large Telescopes. He has developed algorithms to process and enhance the quality of images, both astronomical and biological, using fluorescence microscopy. His currently involved in the development of the Gemini Planet Imager, an extreme AO system for the Gemini South telescope which will be capable of imaging and record spectra of exoplanets orbiting around nearby stars.

2 Responses to A fantastic night at Keck observatory – A follow-up

  1. phill says:

    Every night spend at Mauna Kea is fantastic. Enjoy Your stay!
    Phill

  2. Emme Clark says:

    Yeah. What lousy pictures. lol. Actually, the colors on the headquarters pic are surprisingly distinct for being taken from a phone.

    Thanks for the inside look into your work. It makes me want to ditch my computer for a telescope.

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