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31 March 2013

A Week In Tenerife - The Mt Tiede Observatory Part 2

As I mentioned in part one, the trip to Tenerife was based around telescope time that was booked on the IAC80 and was mainly for the benefit of the physics students of University College Cork. They would gain fantastic experience making observations using a professional telescope. The main science target that the team would be focusing on was a black hole binary system called SWIFT J1910.2-0546. As well as making these scientific observations, the students were also allowed time to make some personal observations, in the aim to have some pretty picture to go home with.

Mark Kennedy, one of the students and a current UCC Physics Lab Demonstrator at the controls of the IAC80
Getting to know the controls and mechanics of using a large professional telescope was a big part of the trip. The above image shows the main control station where the dome can be opened and rotated, input of right ascension and declination coordinates can be made, among many other parameters. The third monitor from the left is actually actually dedicated to the auto guiding mechanism of the telescope, much like that of an amateur astrophotography setup.

The students are gathered around the monitor reserved for controlling the CCD and image manipulation as Dr. Paul Callanan demonstrates the capturing of flat frames before night fall.
The place where we spent most of our night time hours.
A diagram of the IAC80
On the whole, the science objectives were all accomplished. The team gathered multiple observations of the target object, the black hole binary system SWIFT J1910.2-0546. Now that we're back in Ireland, the data will be reduced and used in the 2013 final year projects by the Phd students among them. I will try and gather some information on the results if I can. Just to remind you, the mission was to map the periodicity of the black hole binary system.

Raw data of black hole binary system SWIFT J1910.2-0546
In part three I'll go through some fun astronomy that I was able to do while on Mt. Teide and while I wasn't helping out with the film making during the long evenings. Stay tuned.