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The All Sky Automated Survey - Prototype Instrument

Prototype Instrument for the All Sky Automated Survey consists of the specially designed paralactic mount, and Pictor 416 - CCD camera equipped with 135/1.8 lens.


It is a horse-shoe design driven in both axes by the stepper motors. Main characteristics of the drive:

Mount accuracy can be jujged from the following images:

First is direct average of 20 frames, each 30 seconds exposure, separated by 4 mniutes. Time span between first and last image was 1 hour 20 minutes. Star images are elongated both in RA (improper time constant for the RA drive step) and DEC (very crude polar axis alignment during these exposures).

Second image is "shift and add" frame (obtained after applying proper offsets to each image).

Diagram diagram shows offsets (in pixels) necessary to bring all star images into the same places.

Exposures that we are going to take with this drive will be probably 3-5 minutes long, so even without further trimming star images should not be elongated.


Pictor 416 made by MEADE with Kodak KAF-0400 (512 x 768) is used in the prototype. The only possibility that MEADE provides to control camera is interactive PictorView (for Windows) program. We have developed independent library of C routines, enabling us to control camera over the fast (115 kb) RS-232 interface. We use X Window programs for interaction with camera via camera server (dedicated program, that talks to camera over the serial link). We had to add small fan to keep camera head at temperatures not higher than ambient +5C.


Sigmatel 135mm f/1.8 is used as our primary lens. It is a fast lens, providing pixel scale of 13.75 arcsec/pixel. The only major drawback of the lens is its strange PSF (triangular with two extended fingers). PSF is better if we observe with standard UBVRI filters.


Our observing system consists of a set of specialized servers and client programs interacting comunnicating throught the Data Base (simple, remotely accecible data base system with "get", "put" and "subscribe" functions).