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6 August 2010 Giant Magellan Telescope site testing: PWV statistics and calibration
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Cerro Las Campanas located at Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) in Chile has been selected as the site for the Giant Magellan Telescope. We report results obtained since the commencement, in 2005, of a systematic site testing survey of potential GMT sites at LCO. Atmospheric precipitable water vapor (PWV) adversely impacts mid-IR astronomy through reduced transparency and increased background. Prior to the GMT site testing effort, little was known regarding the PWV characteristics at LCO and therefore, a multi-pronged approach was used to ensure the determination of the fraction of the time suitable for mid-IR observations. High time resolution monitoring was achieved with an Infrared Radiometer for Millimeter Astronomy (IRMA) from the University of Lethbridge deployed at LCO since September of 2007. Absolute calibrations via the robust Brault method (described in Thomas-Osip et al.1) are provided by the Magellan Inamori Kyocera Echelle (MIKE), mounted on the Clay 6.5-m telescope on a timescale of several per month. We find that conditions suitable for mid-IR astronomy (PWV < 1.5 mm) are concentrated in the southern winter and spring months. Nearly 40% of clear time during these seasons have PWV < 1.5mm. Approximately 10% of these nights meet our PWV requirement for the entire night.
© (2010) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Joanna E. Thomas-Osip, Gabriel Prieto, Andrew McWilliam, Mark M. Phillips, Patrick McCarthy, Matt Johns, Richard Querel, and David Naylor "Giant Magellan Telescope site testing: PWV statistics and calibration", Proc. SPIE 7733, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes III, 77334N (6 August 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.857982;


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