AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 82 Ground Based Optical Interferometry
Poster, Tuesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 10, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[82.08] Design and Test of an Instrument for Measuring Microthermal Seeing on Magdalena Ridge

J. C. Speights (New Mexico Tech), A. M. Jorgenson (Los Alamos National Laboratory), D. A. Klinglesmith III, E. C. Downey (Magdalena Ridge Observatory)

We have designed and built an instrument for performing microthermal measurements of ground-level seeing at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI) site. The Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer is an ambitious multi-element imaging interferometer being built by New Mexico Tech that is located west of Socorro in the Magdalena Mountains at an altitude of 10,500 ft. The performance of the interferometer is impacted by the seeing quality from atmospheric effects. Understanding the way air flows in the vicinity of the telescopes will help optimize image quality. We investigate how air flows near the surface of the MROI site using high-speed thermocouple pairs located at four elevations equally spaced on 15 ft masts that are distributed along the array arms of MROI. The rapid temperature measurements are directly related to the local turbulence which in turn is responsible for the ground-level astronomical seeing. Our experiment looks for changes in turbulence at varying heights at different points along the interferometer's path. We will present a detailed description of the instrument, and will show preliminary results and interpretation. Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory are financially supporting this research.

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