Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mosaic Sees First Light!

As reported earlier in the week Palomar's 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope is getting a new camera known as Mosaic. I am happy to report that it was successfully installed yesterday and last night it achieved first light just ahead of an oncoming winter storm. Commissioning for the instrument will continue for the next several weeks and it will likely be mid to late January before we have any pretty pictures to show from the instrument.

In the meantime here are some shots from the recent activity in the dome.

The 96-megapixel Mosaic camera
Mosaic hooked up to its vacuum pump and control electronics as the crew prepares it for a floor test prior to installing it into the telescope.

Caltech's Gustavo Rahmer working inside the Samuel Oschin Telescope. Note that the camera is held in place by the four vanes of the "spider". The optics of the camera are pointed toward the primary mirror and can be seen in reflection just above Gustavo.

David Hale examines the connections in the telescope's interior as Gustavo looks on.

Congratulations to the entire crew. Palomar Transient Factory should produce some very exciting results in the coming years. Stay tuned.

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