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Looking for Correlations between Dust Events and Weather at Observatories in New Mexico

Colleen A. Villanova and Michelle J. Creech‐Eakman
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Vol. 119, No. 860 (October 2007), pp. 1179-1185
DOI: 10.1086/522209
Stable URL:
Page Count: 7
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ABSTRACT An important issue affecting operation of ground‐based observatories is the local environmental conditions, including dust in the atmosphere. Dust “events” can appear suddenly and without warning, and can be very detrimental to a telescope’s optics. Due to these dust events, optics may be required to undergo cleaning and recoating which can cost the observatory a substantial amount of money, in addition to lost observing time. This research involves the statistical analysis of dust event data obtained from the Apache Point Observatory (APO) in Sunspot, New Mexico, which has similar weather conditions to our observatory, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. The objective of this work is to determine whether there are any correlations between dust events and basic weather effects, such as levels or changes in pressure, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction, which could be used to predict the likelihood of such an event. We have identified one correlation between a drop in humidity and concurrent rise in temperature which precedes 76.23% of the measured dust events at APO during a 17 month period.

Notes and References

This item contains 8 references.

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