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Las Cumbres Observatory has developed a set of more than 20 identical 0.4-meter class telescopes at the Santa Barbara headquarters. These telescopes are based around a modified Meade telescope with a custom equatorial mount, and high specification CCD cameras. This class of telescope is proposed to be deployed at the operating LCOGT observatory nodes around the world and would available for science follow-up, educational programs, and for non-professional astronomers (of all ages) to use. Specific funding opportunities are being explored.
The 0m4 telescopes are supported on a C-ring equatorial mount, with all hardware including focus and collimation supplied by LCOGT. Each 0m4 telescopes can be used with one of two available imaging cameras:
An SBIG STX6303 is the main science camera on each 0m4 telescope, mounted in the straight through Cassegrain position:
An Andor Luca-R EM-CCD is mounted on a side port, with a 45-degree mirror that can be inserted to send light to the Luca (this blocks the SBIG).
The image below shows the SBIG camera in the straight through position, and the Luca-R camera to the side, each with their own filter wheels. The moving diagonal mirror to select between these is inside the grey box.
Additional 0m4 robotic mounts will be made available (in Aqawan clamshell enclosures) to facilitate additional astronomical instrumentation. The image below shows one such "cross-beam" C-ring mount in our workshops, supporting a Celestron 8-inch telescope with Deep Space Spectrograph (DSS, indicated to left), and an ASA N8 astrograph (to right, f/3.6 newtonian) giving a FoV of 2.9-degrees with an SBIG 4K CCD. This is currently being tested on-sky at Santa Barbara. Another cross-beam mount supports the All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS-3N) cameras within the clamshell at FTN in Hawai`i. All 0m4 mounts share the same hardware drive and software control mechanisms with our 1m telescopes.
Wide field "context" cameras at each of our network sites cycle through BVriz filters (spanning our optical observing range) every ~2 minutes, measuring instantaneous throughput (transparency) against Tycho, APASS and primary standards from Landolt, Stetson and Sloan. These context cameras include 200mm f/2.8 Nikon lenses (142mm aperture), and the ASA astrograph shown above, attached to SBIG CCDs and filter wheels. They have typical Fields of View of 3--4 degrees (depending on CCD size), with 5-arcsec pixels, and can reach 15mag in 20-sec exposures.Comprehensive transparency measurements (cf.SkyProbe, and see this Conference Paper) can be used to inform and calibrate our data, to characterize, monitor and inter-compare our sites and equipment, and to select photometric periods when traditional calibrations of Target against Standard fields can be optimally and automatically performed. We also measure system bandpasses including atmosphere, mirrors, filters and detectors, and compare our system bandpasses with those for UBVRI and ugriz standard systems.