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Surveying with Charge Coupled Devices

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Final rept. Jul 1986-Apr 1989

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The 0.91-m Spacewatch Telescope of the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona on Kitt Peak is dedicated to scanning with charge-coupled devices CCDs during the dark half of the month. We explored six modes of using CCDs for searches of gamma ray bursters, debris in geosynchronous space, satellites of asteroids, brown dwarf stars, the tenth planet, comets, cometesimals, and various types of asteroids. In the process, we gained experience with cosmic rays and artifacts in CCD observations. Each of these topics is described. I especially note that the existence of cometesimals has not been confirmed by the Spacewatch Telescope. This paper describes a new discipline in astrophysics, scannerscopy, of surveying with a CCD rather than with photography at a Schmidt telescope. It uses the CCD in scanning rather than in sequencing of stare exposures as is done at most observatories. Usually we turn the drive off, but the scanning can be done with the telescope slewing. In any case, the motion on the sky is precisely followed by slaving the charge transfer of the CCD to the drift rate of the image, while the CCD is read out continuously during the observing. Our primary application of CCD-scanning is on moving objects such as comets and asteroids. We also do routine astrometry with CCDs, in a transit method, and this yields a precision of better than or - 0.7 arcsecs.

Subject Categories:

  • Astronomy
  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment
  • Optical Detection and Detectors

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