Astronomical phenomena

LSST Camera’s Unintentional World Records

Jun 28, 2022
In an unassuming tan building, past windswept hills and equipment from the now-defunct B-Factory particle accelerator, scientists and engineers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) have nearly finished building the world’s largest digital camera for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). Construction began in 2015 and since then, the LSST camera team set a Guinness World Record for the camera’s focal plane, a table-sized array of 189 sensors working in concert to produce the highest resolution digital image ever made: 3,200 megapixels. That’s over 1500 times the resolution of a high-definition television. The team didn’t plan on breaking any world records, but to build a camera that can take thousands of images every night—each one over three billion pixels in size—they sort of had to.

#PandemicGoals: Building a record-breaking observatory while locked down in Chile

Mar 30, 2022
Sometime this fall, the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) camera will be delivered to Santiago on a 747 jumbo jet and trucked to the Rubin Observatory Summit Facility. Located nearly nine thousand feet above sea level in the Andean foothills—about two hours from Chile’s second-oldest city, La Serena—the observatory will house an 8.4 meter (almost 28 feet!) telescope containing the largest digital camera ever built. Each night, the SUV-sized camera will collect thousands of wide-field images of the southern sky, looking further back into the history of the universe with each exposure. Commissioning engineers and scientists from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) have been developing novel ways to handle the many technical challenges that come with building a Guinness World Record breaking observatory.

When our life-giving local star disappears!

Sep 3, 2017
The Great American Eclipse of 2017 occurred on August 21 in a slightly less than 100-mile-wide strip. It entered the US off the northern Oregon coast and exited off the coast of South Carolina about two hours later (see, for example, here for a clickable path map)—and several KIPAC members made sure to station themselves within this strip, also known as the "Zone of Totality," hoping to experience firsthand this very rare life event (on any given place on the Earth, total eclipses occur only about every 100 years, though they occur somewhere on the Earth about every year and a half).