AFOS: Probing the UV-visible potential of the Antarctic Plateau

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The Antarctic Fiber-Optic Spectrometer (AFOS) is a 30cm Newtonian optical telescope that injects light through six 30m long optical fibers onto a 240-850nm spectrograph with a 1024 x 256 pixel CCD camera. The telescope is mounted on a dual telescope altitude-azimuth mount and has been designed to measure the transperency of the atmosphere above the South Pole for astronomy in the UV and visible wavelength regions. The instrument has observed a series of bright O and B stars during the austral winters of 2002 and 2003 to probe the UV cutoff wavelength, the auroral intensity and water vapour content in the atmosphere above the plateau. AFOS is the first completely automated optical telescope on the Antarctic Plateau. This paper reports on the results of the past two austral winters of remote observing with the telescope as well as the technical and software modifications required to improve the quality and automation of the observations. The atmospheric absorption bands in the 660-900nm regions of the spectra have been fitted with MODTRAN atmospheric models and used to calculate the precipitable water vapour above the South Pole. These data are then compared to those collected concurrently by radiosonde and by a 350m submillimeter tipper at South Pole. [13 Refs; In English]
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Dempsey, Jessica
Storey, John
Ashley, Michael
Burton, Michael
Calisse, Paolo
Jarnyk, M
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UNSW Faculty