It’s the International Day of Light! Let’s see what we can see:
-The Zwicky Transient Facility has had its first public data release: a dump of ones and zeroes from about a year of sky searching. The ZTF is a sky survey using the Palomar schmidt telescope with a new detector array. There’s a wide-field-of-view schmidt telescopes, an advanced detector with numerous “chips” in a mosaic, and a fast-slew mount. Put them together, and you’ve got a sensitive survey of objects in the Northern Hemisphere.
The ZTF is, primarily, for hunting supernovae. Exploding stars are bright enough to be seen from the other side of the universe. Each supernova, then, is a measurement of that ‘side of the universe.’ But the program all along knew it would catch asteroids too. Its first night of trials, ZTF bagged one. Depending on how many turn out to be new discoveries, the ZTF asteroid search rate may be multiple objects per night.
-The LSST mirror has reached the observatory in Chile. If the Zwicky sky survey is considered sensitive with a 48″ aperture telescope, then ponder this upcoming LSST. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will, in a few years, have an aperture over eight meters, or 320 inches. It will also be in the Southern Hemisphere, where our search efforts have been lagging. The amount of sky imaging that will pour out of the LSST will be so boggling, we are developing new computers just to sift through it all. It has its own, dedicated fiber optic cable leading from Chile, to university server farms in the US.
The heart of the telescope, its primary mirror, was cast and ground in Arizona. Its cargo ship steamed through the Panama Canal and down to Chile last month, and it got trucked up the mountain to the observing site, now being completed.
-All this time, Gaia is quietly taking data…