During the months of October and November 2017, a number of MeerLICHT scientists used the telescope for commissioning observations, to assess the image quality and the depth achieved in a 1 minute exposure in all filters. We targeted fields that will be observed with MeerKAT over the next five years. Our commissioning observations of those fields will provide a long baseline for any variable or transient object discovered by MeerKAT/MeerLICHT.
Rik ter Horst (ASTRON) spent one week in Sutherland to test the optics of MeerLICHT with on-sky observations and to align the primary mirror of MeerLICHT to perfection. This has resulted in sharp, round stellar images across the entire 2.7 square degree field of view of MeerLICHT [only a small part of the full frame is shown here].
The MeerLICHT telescope was lifted into its dome on 7 July 2017. This marks the start of the installation of MeerLICHT at the Sutherland station of the South African Astronomy Observatory. Over the coming month, a group of people from ASTRON, Radboud University, the University of Groningen and the University of Cape Town will be installing the telescope and its camera, and test out the alignment of the optics of the telescope.
On 1 July 2017, the MeerLICHT telescope arrived in South Africa. Here you see the telescope all boxed up at Cape Town international airport before it is transported to the Sutherland station of the South African Astronomical Observatory, where the installation is scheduled for the month of July 2017.
On Monday 30 January 2017, the MeerLICHT telescope and counterweight were lifted into the observatory dome of the Radboud University, where the telescope and counterweight were connected to the telescope mount. Over the coming month, extensive testing will be performed including on-sky observations.
Work on the cooled counterweight of MeerLICHT is progressing very well at Radboud University in Nijmegen. The MeerLICHT electronics will be housed in the counterweight of the telescope where excess heat will be removed through a water cooling system.
The MeerLICHT telescope mount – produced by FORNAX in Hungary – has arrived in Nijmegen and was lifted into one of the observatory domes on 3 October 2016 for extensive testing, and integration with the MeerLICHT telescope.
The MeerLICHT telescope has been assembled for the first time at the Optical and Near-Infrared laboratory of ASTRON. Now it is time to test the alignment of the telescope’s optics and prepare for the first on-sky tests
The astrophysics group of the University of Oxford has joined the MeerLICHT project in September 2015. Central of Oxford’s involvement in MeerLICHT is Prof Fender and his research group working on radio transients. Prof Fender is also the co-principal investigator of the MeerKAT large survey project on radio transients, ThunderKAT, a project closely affiliated with MeerLICHT.
The MeerLICHT consortium agreement was signed on 28 November 2014 by the founding members of MeerLICHT, namely the University of Cape Town (represented by Prof Danie Visser, deputy vice chancellor for research and internationalisation), Radboud University Nijmegen (represented by Dr Mark Klein-Wolt, project manager of MeerLICHT), the South African Astronomical Observatory (represented by Prof Ted Williams, director), and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (represented by Dr Louis Vertegaal, director board for physical sciences)