Optical Instrumentation


The University of Athens Observatory is in close collaboration with the rest Laboratories in the Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics. Every year nearly 250 students from Department of Physics and 150 from Department of Mathematics are trained at UOAO and the Laboratory of Astronomy and Applied Optics. For the educational courses, both Laboratories is equipped with the necessary instruments, in order to perform experiments on the basic optical phenomena, which often appear in observational astronomy and instrumentation, including diffraction, reflection and interferometry. Highly accurate optical experiments are performed on specialized optical benches or directly on the 0.4 m telescope.

The Laboratory of Astrophysics and the Laboratory of Astronomy and Applied Optics are also equipped with a wide variety of astronomical telescopes, spectrographs and astronomical instrumentation which can be used for research and educational purposes, in collaboration with the University of Athens Observatory.

Robotic and Full Remote Controlled Telescope

The 0.4 m f/8 Cassegrain telescope at the University of Athens Observatory had its first light on November 1999. For the first 12 years or operation, the observations were carried out in semi-automatic mode, with the absolute need of an observer being at the control room and/or inside the dome. Since August 2012 the telescope and dome can be fully controlled remotely, enabling the observations from any place via internet connection. This is the first robotic and fully remote controlled telescope operating in a Greek Institute.

University of Athens Observatory - 0.4 m telescope

The first robotic and fully remote controlled telescope in Greece has reached a 75% of annual usage (~280 clear nights), out of which more than 50% are of very good and excellent photometric quality.

Stellar Spectrograph

In July 2006 a Medium-Resolution Stellar Spectrograph (UOAO-MRS) has been constructed at the Laboratory of Astronomy and Applied Optics at UoA by Prof. D. Papathanassoglou and Dr. K. Gazeas. The instrument was initially built for laboratory applications and later was modified for astronomical use. The spectrograph was mounted on the telescope at the Athens University Observatory, as well as on the telescope at the Kryoneri Astronomical Station in Korinth, Greece. From the beginning the results were very promising and the first results were presented in the 8th HEL.A.S. conference (Sept. 2007), as well as in the following HEL.A.S. conferences (9th in Athens, 12th in Thessaloniki). Observations of stellar spectra for classification purposes are already obtained and a stellar spectroscopic atlas was created for the MS stars. The stellar atlas is now under the process of being extended to other luminosity classes (subgiants-giants-supergiants).

The stellar spectrograph is mounted on the telescope at the University of Athens, performing spectroscopic observations for stellar classification and effective temperature purposes.

Focal Reducer

Since 2003 an f/6.3 focal reducer has been installed on the UOAO telescope, increasing the effective Field of View (FoV) by a factor of ∼2. In 2004, the same focal reducer was installed at the 1.2 m telescope at the Kryoneri Astronomical Station in Korinth, Greece, increased the effective field of view by a factor of ∼2, resulting with easier pointing of the telescope, faster photometry (of a factor of 4) and wider selection of calibrating stars. This setup was permanently installed on the telescope at Kryoneri Astronomical Station between 2013-2014, after the agreement with the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) and therefore photometric observations are carried out much easier. In 2015 the focal reducer was removed from the telescope, due to reconstructions and telescope updrade for a different NOA observing program. The focal reducer is now used on the 0.4 m telescope at UOAO, giving an effective focal ratio of f/5, and a wide fielf of view of 17×26 arcmin.

The focal reducer is shown mounted on ST10 XME CCD camera at the University of Athens telescope (left) and on AP17p CCD camera at Kryoneri Astronomical Station.

The focal reducer was designed and constructed at the University of Athens and installed on the telescope at the Kryoneri Observatory, offering an increased 5x5 arcmin FoV.

Optical and astronomical instrumentation applications at the University of Athens Observatory have been announced in international conferences, as referred publications.

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