NOAO Currents

August 2018  •  Issue 54



Currents is a sparkplug for communication between NOAO and our community. It provides updates—and solicits community input—on NOAO observing opportunities and NOAO programs and policies on a more rapid timescale than is possible with the NOAO Newsletter.

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In this Issue…

CHIRON, image of stellar spectra

Observing Time with CHIRON Available for Exoplanet Research: NASA is purchasing 35 nights per semester of observing time with the echelle spectrometer CHIRON for use by the NOAO community for exoplanet research. Further information will be available in the 2019A NOAO Call for Proposals. Read more…

SOAR Telescope at Sunset

News from SOAR: Changes to the SOAR Target of Opportunity program address the demand for follow-up of gravitational wave events and other time domain observations. The SOAR Integral Field Spectrograph (SIFS) will be available to proposers in the 2019A semester. Both the SOAR Echelle Spectrograph (STELES) and TripleSpec 4.1 (formerly ARCOIRIS at the Blanco Telescope) will likely be available for science verification and early science in 2019A. Read more…

In the Time Domain

In the Time Domain: ZTF, ANTARES, and a Synoptic Follow-up System:

  • The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) is in full swing and producing hundreds of thousands of transient alerts per night. Alerts from the ZTF public survey are available daily. NOAO proposals for ToO follow-up programs are welcome, and the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) automated telescopes remain accessible through the NOAO TAC.
  • An ANTARES brokering service for the ZTF alert stream will be available in or about January 2019. Shared-risk NOAO proposals for follow-up observing of ANTARES-filtered alerts are welcome for 2019A for science verification purposes.
  • NOAO is developing a follow-up system for synoptic surveys (“Astronomical Event Observation Network” or AEON) that will integrate brokering, scheduling, data acquisition and reduction, and enable coordination among multiple groups to optimize resource use. AEON is a collaboration between NOAO, Gemini, SOAR, and LCO. Read more…
Legacy Surveys DR7

DESI Imaging Legacy Surveys DR7: The seventh data release features source catalogs from images covering more than a quarter of the sky. Catalogs include DECam photometry (g, r, and z bands) and custom mid-infrared fluxes from the WISE satellite. Potential DR7 users are invited to explore the data set via the Legacy Survey sky viewer, which allows for seamless interactive zooming and panning throughout the entire data set. Read more…

US Extremely Large Telescope (US-ELT) Program

Key Science Programs for US ELTs: The US Extremely Large Telescope Program, a joint initiative of NOAO, the Thirty Meter Telescope, and the Giant Magellan Telescope, aims to provide the US community with open access to significant observing time on both facilities. Key Science Programs (KSPs), which are being developed for presentation to the 2020 Decadal Survey and NSF, are a core element of the Program. To contribute to KSP development, visit the US ELT Program KSP web page. Read more…

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Opening a Window of Discovery on the Dynamic Universe

Call for White Papers on LSST Cadence: The LSST Project has issued a call for white papers to help refine the ‘main survey’ and fully define the use of the 10-20% of time that is expected to be devoted to various ‘mini surveys’ including ‘Deep Drilling mini-surveys’ and ‘Target of Opportunity’ programs. The submission deadline is 30 November 2018. Read more…

Searching for Dwarf Companions of the Milky Way and Beyond in the LSST Era meeting attendees

Workshop Report — “Searching for Dwarf Galaxy Companions in the LSST Era”: To capitalize on the opportunity offered by LSST to address fundamental galaxy formation questions, NOAO and the LSST Corporation sponsored a dwarf galaxy workshop in October 2017. In addition to examining the science questions that will drive this field in the LSST era, participants also anticipated the demands that the science will place on LSST archives and tools and offered guidance on observing strategies and follow-up needs. Read more…

Newly-Coated Primary for Blanco Telescope: The realuminization of the 4-m Blanco telescope primary mirror has led to significant increases in reflectivity (10-25%). Further improvements to the thermal control of the primary are under way. Read more…

Extremely Big Eyes on the Early Universe

Meeting Announcement — “Extremely Big Eyes on the Early Universe”: The first in a three-part series of international conferences, this meeting will review the current state of the art in studying the high redshift universe and discuss how to best use giant telescopes to go beyond. The meeting will be held 28 January — 1 February 2019 at UCLA. Registration is now open. Read more…

Conference presentations available online — “Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory”: At the July 2018 conference the astronomical community gathered to review recent science highlights, discuss needs in the context of Gemini’s evolving capabilities, and develop strategies for the future. Presentations from the scientific program, which covered science topics, instrument themes, and panel discussions, are now available online at the conference website.

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Did something interesting, inspiring, or surprising happen on a recent observing run? Please tell us about it! Is there a topic that you would like to see covered in a future Currents? If you are planning a regional astronomy meeting or department internal symposium, would you like someone from NOAO to give a presentation on our new program? Please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you!

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In this Issue

Currents is a sparkplug for communication between NOAO and our community. It provides updates—and solicits community input—on NOAO observing opportunities and NOAO programs and policies on a more rapid timescale than is possible with the NOAO Newsletter.

NOAO is the national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

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