SPIRAL was successfully commissioned on the Anglo-Australian Telescope during 28-30 March 2000. Clear skies, sub-arcsecond seeing, and the straightforward setting-up of SPIRAL meant that a wide variety of astronomical objects could be observed. A large number of observations were done to test and demonstrate the performance of the instrument. This page presents an overview of the results from commissioning. Please come back regularly for updates as we proceed through the vast amounts of 3D data.
The commissioning team were: Jeremy Bailey (software & astronomy), Russell Cannon (astronomy), Keith Taylor (instrumentation & focus adjustment) and David Lee (who built it and did the other adjustments).
Figure 1: Reconstructed IFU image, at =6583Å N[II], of the planetary nebula NGC6302 taken with SPIRAL. The image spans 58"x22".
Figure 2: R-band image of NGC6302. Image taken from the digital sky survey (acknowledgement).
The SPIRAL IFU collects light at the F/8 cassegrain focus of the AAT. An 18m length of optical fibre then transfers the light to the spectrograph. The spectrograph was purpose built for observing with fibres. It is of littrow configuration and accepts light at F/4.8. The spectrograph remains on the floor of the telescope dome whilst observing providing a stable environment. The pictures below show us preparing the spectrograph for observing.
Photograph of the SPIRAL spectrograph. The output slit can be seen mounted on the spectrograph. The prism mount and first lens can also be seen. The IFU input is the black box on the table on the left. The grating mount is at the back where David Lee is performing precise optical alignment with a ruler. The CCD (not shown) will eventually fit in place at the front near the slit unit.
A photograph of David Lee installing a mirror on the spectrograph in place of the usual diffraction grating. The mirror is used to autocollimate the spectrograph to ensure it is focussed correctly.
Photograph of the SPIRAL optical bench situated at the Cassegrain focus of the AAT. The black box is the IFU input and contains the microlens array and fibre feed. The fore-optics can be seen above the IFU input. The strain relief box, containing a spare loop of fibre, can be seen to the left.
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firstname.lastname@example.org 15 May 2000