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Pierre Auger Observatory FRAM telescope now equipped with G2 and G1 CCD cameras
 FRAM (PHotometric Robotic Atmospheric Monitor) robotic telescope, maintained by Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, works on Pierre Auger observatory at Los Leones, Argentina. Main target of this telescope is measuring of atmospheric extinction and its influence to cosmic particle observations (cosmic rays monitoring is the reason Pierre Auger was built for, more e.g. here). FRAM spare time is filled with observations of comets, asteroids, variable stars etc.

FRAM main optical tube assembly is 12 inch (305 mm) f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with 0.66× reducer on Paramount ME mount. There are also 200 mm photographic lens for wide field imaging and guiding telescope piggybacked on the main OTA. Both main instruments (SCT and 200 mm lens) are equipped with G2-1600 CCD cameras with internal filter wheel with UBVRI photometric filters. Guiding telescope uses G1-0300 CCD camera. The whole setup is controlled by RTS2 software package.

FRAM telescope with G2-1600 CCD cameras

The telescope is located in the independent building, which roof can be opened. The building is located near the Los Leones fluorescent detector, Argentina.

FRAM at Los Leones, Argentina

FRAM telescope observes standard star fields through photometric filters, which allows assessment of atmospheric extinction. Extinction measurement is important for monitoring of traces caused by cosmic particles in the upper atmosphere, which is the main Pierre Auger observing program. In addition to standard star fields FRAM also observes traces themselves—when the fluorescent detector registers a particle shower, FRAM starts observing of the shower traces.

FRAM under the southern sky

FRAM spare observing time is used for other observations. Because the telescope operation is fully robotic (it is controlled remotely and does not require observer to be physically present), it allows northern-hemisphere based astronomers to observe otherwise unreachable southern-hemisphere objects. For instance Martin Masek rediscovered comet 260P/McNaught using FRAM or Zdenek Sekanina used FRAM observations to publish a broad study about comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) etc. The telescope also performs photometric measurements of variable stars and comets as well as astrometry of near-Earth asteroids including NEOCP objects.

All images on this page courtesy of Martin Masek.

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