SpUpNIC (Spectrograph Upgrade: Newly Improved Cassegrain) is the extensively upgraded Cassegrain Spectrograph on the South African Astronomical Observatory's 74-inch (1.9-m) telescope. The inverse-Cassegrain collimator mirrors and woefully inefficient Maksutov-Cassegrain camera optics have been replaced, along with the CCD and SDSU controller. All moving mechanisms are now governed by a programmable logic controller, allowing remote configuration of the instrument via an intuitive new graphical user interface. The new collimator produces a larger beam to match the optically faster Folded-Schmidt camera design and nine surface-relief diffraction gratings offer various wavelength ranges and resolutions across the optical domain. The new camera optics (a fused silica Schmidt plate, a slotted fold flat and a spherically figured primary mirror, both Zerodur, and a fused silica field-flattener lens forming the cryostat window) reduce the camera’s central obscuration to increase the instrument throughput. The physically larger and more sensitive CCD extends the available wavelength range; weak arc lines are now detectable down to 325 nm and the red end extends beyond one micron. A rear-of-slit viewing camera has streamlined the observing process by enabling accurate target placement on the slit and facilitating telescope focus optimisation. An interactive quick-look data reduction tool further enhances the user-friendliness of SpUpNI
Construction of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) was largely completed by the end of 2005 and since then
it has been in intensive commissioning. This has now almost been completed except for the telescope's image quality
which shows optical aberrations, chiefly a focus gradient across the focal plane, along with astigmatism and other less
significant aberrations. This paper describes the optical systems engineering investigation that has been conducted since
early 2006 to diagnose the problem. A rigorous approach has been followed which has entailed breaking down the
system into the major sub-systems and subjecting them to testing on an individual basis. Significant progress has been
achieved with many components of the optical system shown to be operating correctly. The fault has been isolated to a
major optical sub-system. We present the results obtained so far, and discuss what remains to be done.
We report on the completion of a new 2 channel, HIgh speed Photo-POlarimeter (HIPPO) for the 1.9m optical telescope of the South African Astronomical Observatory. The instrument makes use of rapidly counter-rotating (10Hz), super-achromatic half- and quarter-waveplates, a fixed Glan-Thompson beamsplitter and two photo-multiplier tubes that record the modulated O and E beams. Each modulated beam permits an independent measurement of the polarisation and therefore simultaneous 2 filter observations. All Stokes parameters are recorded every 0.1sec and photometry every 1 millisecond. Post-binning of data is possible in order to improve the signal. This is ideal for measuring e.g. the rapid variability of the optical polarisation from magnetic Cataclysmic Variable stars. First light was obtained in February 2008.
SALT, the Southern African Large Telescope, is a 10-m class telescope presently under construction and designed along the lines of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory in West Texas. The two first light instruments are a simple science imager, SALTICAM, which also doubles as the telescope acquisition camera, and a low resolution spectrometer, the Prime Focus Imaging Spectrograph (PFIS). The detector packages for both instruments, which are being supplied by the South African Astronomical Observatory, will have the capability of readout of a sub-array with a frequency of up to 10 Hz. This is not available on most 8-10 m class telescopes and enables deeper exploration of high-time resolution parameter space. This paper will describe general features of the detector packages, emphasizing the high speed capability, and also touching on the kind of science which is envisaged.
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is a 10-m class telescope presently under construction at Sutherland in South Africa. It is designed along the lines of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory in West Texas. SALTICAM will be the Acquisition Camera and simple Science Imager (ACSI) for this telescope. It will also function as the Verification Instrument (VI) to check the performance of the telescope during commissioning.
In VI mode, SALTICAM will comprise a filter unit, shutter and cryostat with a 2x1 mosaic of 2k x 4k x 15 micron pixel CCDs. It will be mounted at the f/4.2 corrected prime focus of the telescope. In ACSI mode it will be fed by a folding flat located close to the exit pupil of the telescope. ACSI mode will have the same functional components as VI mode but it will in addition be garnished with focal conversion lenses to re-image the corrected prime focal plane at f/2. The lenses will be made from UV transmitting crystals as the wavelength range for which the instrument is designed will span 320 to 950 nm.
In addition to acting as Verification Instrument and Acquisition Camera, SALTICAM will perform simple science imaging in support of other instruments, but will also have a high time resolution capability which is not widely available on large telescopes.
This paper will describe the design of the instrument, emphasizing features of particular interest.