HIMALAYAN CHANDRA TELESCOPE
Mt. Saraswati, Hanle
(Cycle 4: May - July 2004; Accepted Proposals)
The 2-m Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) was installed at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), Mt. Saraswati, Digpa-ratsa Ri, Hanle at an altitude of 4500 m (15000 ft) above msl by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, in August 2000. Subsequent efforts were centred on commissioning the first light instruments, performance tests of the telescope, dome and remote operation through dedicated satellite communication link from the Centre for Research & Education in Science & Technology (CREST), Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Hosakote, about 35 km northeast of Bangalore. The Himalayan Faint Object Spectrograph Camera (HFOSC) and the near-infrared camera are available for regular observations.
About 50% of the time was allocated during Cycle 1, which increased to 70% during Cycle 3. The telescope will be available only during May - July 2004 in cycle 4, since it is proposed to undertake mirror aluminization during August 2004. As in the previous cycles, some time will be used for preventive maintenance of the telescope and instruments. It is also proposed to reserve some time for service observations.
The HCT Time Allocation Committee (HTAC) has been constituted by the Director, IIA, with A.V. Raveendran (Chairman), M. Parthasarathy, T.P. Prabhu, R. Vasundhara, G.C. Anupama, D.K. Sahu, D. Angchuk and P.Sreekumar (ISAC) as members. HTAC invites observing proposals from astronomers. The instruments available during this cycle will be the Himalayan Faint Object Spectrograph (HFOSC) and the NIR Camera.
Guest observers can operate the telescope and instrument from CREST using the satellite communication link. There are no operators available at present, but the astronomers at CREST and engineers from IAO will introduce the guest observers to the user interfaces for operation and to the procedures for downloading the data during the day. There could be occasional problems at night which can be attended by experts only during the following day. The HCT has key programmes on targets of opportunity (ToO) such as novae, supernovae, afterglows of GRBs and AGN variability. A part of the allotted telescope time may be used by the ToO teams for such observations. The guest observers are welcome to participate and collaborate on such programmes undertaken during the time allotted to them.
The current performance of the telescope with no autoguider installed is:
Pointing accuracy: 3 arcsec rms
Tracking accuracy: 1.38 arcsec (mean) over 10 minutes
Image quality: 0.7 arcsec diameter (80% power)
Note: In the absence of the autoguider, integration times of only 10 to 20 minutes are possible, depending on the location of the object in the sky.
The last date for receiving completed observing proposals is now extended to 31 March 2004 and the information on allotment of time will be communicated to the proposers by 10 April 2004. Further information on the site, telescope and instruments may be obtained at http://www.iiap.res.in/iao/iao.html. Proposals and queries may be sent to email@example.com.