EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 477, Number 2, January II 2008
Page(s) 671 - 680
Section Astronomical instrumentation
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20077996

A&A 477, 671-680 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20077996

FADE, an instrument to measure the atmospheric coherence time

A. Tokovinin1, A. Kellerer2, and V. Coudé Du Foresto3

1  Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Casilla 603, La Serena, Chile
    e-mail: atokovinin@ctio.noao.edu
2  European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse, 2 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
    e-mail: aglae.kellerer@eso.org
3  LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, section de Meudon, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
    e-mail: vincent.foresto@obspm.fr

(Received 1 June 2007 / Accepted 21 August 2007)

Aims. After proposing a new method of deriving the atmospheric time constant from the speed of focus variations (Kellerer & Tokovinin 2007, A&A, 461, 775), we now implement it with the new instrument, FADE.
Methods. FADE uses a 36-cm Celestron telescope that is modified to transform stellar point images into a ring by increasing the central obstruction and combining defocus with spherical aberration. Sequences of images recorded with a fast CCD detector are processed to determine the defocus and its variations in time from the ring radii. The temporal structure function of the defocus is fitted with a model to derive the atmospheric seeing and time constant. We investigated by numerical simulation the data reduction algorithm and instrumental biases. Bias caused by instrumental effects, such as optical aberrations, detector noise, acquisition frequency, etc., is quantified. The ring image must be well-focused, i.e. must have a sufficiently sharp radial profile, otherwise, scintillation seriously affects the results. An acquisition frequency of 700 Hz appears adequate.
Results. FADE was operated for 5 nights at the Cerro Tololo observatory in parallel with the regular site monitor. Reasonable agreement between the results from the two instruments has been obtained.

Key words: atmospheric effects -- instrumentation: adaptive optics -- instrumentation: interferometers -- site testing

© ESO 2007