22 July 2014 The automated planet finder at Lick Observatory
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By July 2014, the Automated Planet Finder (APF) at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton will have completed its first year of operation. This facility combines a modern 2.4m computer-controlled telescope with a flexible development environment that enables efficient use of the Levy Spectrometer for high cadence observations. The Levy provides both sub-meter per second radial velocity precision and high efficiency, with a peak total system throughput of 24%. The modern telescope combined with efficient spectrometer routinely yields over 100 observations of 40 stars in a single night, each of which has velocity errors of 0.7 to 1.4 meters per second, all with typical seeing of < 1 arc second full-width-half-maximum (FWHM). The whole observing process is automated using a common application programming interface (API) for inter-process communication which allows scripting to be done in a variety of languages (Python, Tcl, bash, csh, etc.) The flexibility and ease-of-use of the common API allowed the science teams to be directly involved in the automation of the observing process, ensuring that the facility met their requirements. Since November 2013, the APF has been routinely conducting autonomous observations without human intervention.
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Matt V. Radovan, Matt V. Radovan, Kyle Lanclos, Kyle Lanclos, Bradford P. Holden, Bradford P. Holden, Robert I. Kibrick, Robert I. Kibrick, S. L. Allen, S. L. Allen, William T. S. Deich, William T. S. Deich, Eugenio Rivera, Eugenio Rivera, Jennifer Burt, Jennifer Burt, Benjamin Fulton, Benjamin Fulton, Paul Butler, Paul Butler, Steven S. Vogt, Steven S. Vogt, "The automated planet finder at Lick Observatory", Proc. SPIE 9145, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes V, 91452B (22 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057310; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2057310

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