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.

What observers really DO at the telescope -- Part 2: Targets of Opportunity

Jan 31, 2018
In Part I of this 2-part series on what astronomers do while observing, we looked at what happens when we take wide-field data for the cosmological side of things, and here in Part 2 we will continue with discussing the other mode that most people think of when they imagine what astronomers do at a telescope: searching for specific interesting objects.

What observers really DO at the telescope -- Part 1: Wide field survey mode

Jan 31, 2018
I recently returned from an observing run at a telescope in Chile, and I thought our readers might wonder what astronomers do when they’re observing. After all, it can’t all be sitting around romantically staring up at the stars, right? So here’s a detailed description of what I did when I was observing for those who have wondered what actual observing is like.