April 8, 2021 - After on-sky observations resumed in mid-January 2021, the Rubin Observatory Auxiliary Telescope (AuxTel) continued to collect images through the end of March, using the spectrograph mounted on the telescope. These images are being used to test and refine the hardware and software that will eventually enable the AuxTel to help Rubin Observatory produce more accurate data.
This video, assembled by Merlin Fisher-Levine, Calibration Scientist for Rubin Observatory and a member of the Data Management (DM) team, is an animation of all the images, (excluding calibration frames) that were taken using the spectrograph during an on-sky observing run in March. A longer video that includes all the images taken with the spectrograph so far is available at this link.
These animations, which are typically produced for each observing run, provide an easily navigated overview of all the data, allowing a quick look at an individual exposure to be pulled up in seconds (using the full data identifier at the top of each frame). Watching the animations also allows the team to pick out patterns that wouldn't be identifiable in isolated images, alerting them to possible issues. For example, a slight unexpected rotation when observing the same field multiple times in a row might indicate a problem with the configuration of the telescope hardware.
The AuxTel is proving to be an invaluable pathfinder for whole-project integration, bringing the Camera, Data Management (DM), Commissioning, US-based IT, Chile-based IT, and Telescope & Site teams together. Currently the DM team is working on a number of AuxTel-related projects, including migrating AuxTel to the Gen3 Butler, using AuxTel data to start testing the calibration pipeline, and performing a full first reduction of the spectroscopic data that's been taken to date.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions were reinstated in the La Serena area at the end of March, so night-time activities on the summit, including on-sky observations with AuxTel, have been suspended for at least four weeks. But software and data-related projects will continue, and these images will contribute to that progress.