Remote Observing at Apache Point Observatory

This week, we had two half nights to observe on the 3.5m ARC telescope at Apache Point Observatory. Last Spring, I took 5 students to APO to use this telescope on site. After going on that trip, we were officially checked out to use the telescope remotely from right here in Haverford.

On Sunday, Chris Nagele (’16) and I observed from my dining room. Conditions were tough – blowing snow on the mountain – so we only had a couple of hours on sky, and with poor image quality. Last night, we had clear and cold conditions and we able to observe for our entire 7 hour window. Despite some rookie mistakes made by me that lost us about 30 minutes of time, we accomplished our mission to observe some galaxy spectra with the DIS instrument.

Jonathan Hargis (postdoc), Alison Marqusee (’16) and Eric Smith (’15) assisted with the observations in my office, while Dave Sand and Paul Bennet (Texas Tech) Skype’ed in and assisted from Lubbock, Texas. We all ate too many snacks.

Here, I’m showing Alison and Eric a galaxy spectrum that Dave sent over after a quick analysis:


Now we’re smiling for Jonathan to show that we aren’t all business:


All six of us were working in Texas and Haverford on different computers on different tasks. Here, Jonathan is checking the spectroscopic data and Eric is filling in our observing log:


NSF AST-1151462, the Boughn-Gollub-Partridge Fund, the KINSC, and the Green Fund provide support for our student-faculty collaborative work on the ARC 3.5m telescope at Apache Point Observatory.