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Optical Sky Brightness and Transparency during the Winter Season at Dome A Antarctica from the Gattini-All-Sky Camera

Yang, Yi and Moore, Anna M. and Krisciunas, Kevin and Wang, Lifan and Ashley, Michael C. B. and Fu, Jianning and Brown, Peter J. and Cui, Xiangqun and Feng, Long-Long and Gong, Xuefei and Hu, Zhongwen and Lawrence, Jon S. and Luong-van, Daniel and Riddle, Reed L. and Shang, Zhaohui and Sims, Geoff and Storey, John W. V. and Suntzeff, Nicholas B. and Tothill, Nick and Travouillon, Tony and Yang, Huigen and Yang, Ji and Zhou, Xu and Zhu, Zhenxi (2017) Optical Sky Brightness and Transparency during the Winter Season at Dome A Antarctica from the Gattini-All-Sky Camera. Astronomical Journal, 154 (1). Art. No. 6. ISSN 1538-3881.

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The summit of the Antarctic plateau, Dome A, is proving to be an excellent site for optical, near-infrared, and terahertz astronomical observations. Gattini is a wide-field camera installed on the PLATO instrument module as part of the Chinese-led traverse to Dome A in 2009 January. We present here the measurements of sky brightness with the Gattini ultra-large field of view (90° x 90°) in the photometric B-, V-, and R-bands; cloud cover statistics measured during the 2009 winter season; and an estimate of the sky transparency. A cumulative probability distribution indicates that the darkest 10% of the nights at Dome A have sky brightness of S_B = 22.98, S V = 21.86, and S_R = 21.68 mag arcsec^(−2). These values were obtained during the year 2009 with minimum aurora, and they are comparable to the faintest sky brightness at Maunakea and the best sites of northern Chile. Since every filter includes strong auroral lines that effectively contaminate the sky brightness measurements, for instruments working around the auroral lines, either with custom filters or with high spectral resolution instruments, these values could be easily obtained on a more routine basis. In addition, we present example light curves for bright targets to emphasize the unprecedented observational window function available from this ground-based site. These light curves will be published in a future paper.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Moore, Anna M.0000-0002-2894-6936
Krisciunas, Kevin0000-0002-6650-694X
Riddle, Reed L.0000-0002-0387-370X
Additional Information:© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 October 30; revised 2017 May 13; accepted 2017 May 15; published 2017 June 13. We thank Shri Kulkarni and Caltech Optical Observatories, Gerard Van Belle, and Chas Beichman for their financial contributions to this project. We are grateful to Xiaofeng Wang, Chao Wu, Ming Yang, Tianmeng Zhang, Yanping Zhang, and Jilin Zhou for helpful discussions. This research is supported by the Chinese PANDA International Polar Year project and the Polar Research Institute of China. The project was funded by the following awards from the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs: ANT 0836571, ANT 0909664, and ANT 1043282. The project was also supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program "The Emergence of Cosmological Structures" of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Grant No. XDB09000000. J.N.F. acknowledges the support from the Joint Fund of Astronomy of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and Chinese Academy of Sciences through the grant U1231202, the NSFC grant 11673003, the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program 2014CB845700 and 2013CB834900), and the LAMOST Fellowship supported by the Special Funding for Advanced Users, budgeted and administrated by the Center for Astronomical Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAMS). The operation of PLATO at Dome A is supported by the Australian Research Council, the Australian Antarctic Division, and the University of New South Wales. The authors wish to thank all the members of the 2008/2009/2010 PRIC Dome A heroic expeditions.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Chinese PANDA International Polar Year ProjectUNSPECIFIED
Polar Research Institute of ChinaUNSPECIFIED
Chinese Academy of SciencesXDB09000000
Chinese Academy of SciencesU1231202
National Natural Science Foundation of China11673003
National Basic Research Program of China2014CB845700
National Basic Research Program of China2013CB834900
Australian Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED
University of New South WalesUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:methods: data analysis – methods: statistical – site testing – techniques: photometric – telescopes
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170612-154057957
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Yi Yang et al 2017 AJ 154 6
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:78129
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Jun 2017 22:51
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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