Winter sky brightness & cloud cover over Dome A

Yang, Yi et al., 2014, American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #223, 223, 148.32 | View on ADS (2014AAS...22314832Y)


At the summit of the Antarctic plateau, Dome A offers an intriguing location for future large scale optical astronomical Observatories. The Gattini DomeA project was created to measure the optical sky brightness and large area cloud cover of the winter-time sky above this high altitude Antarctic site. The wide field camera and multi-filter system was installed on the PLATO instrument module as part of the Chinese-led traverse to Dome A in January 2008. This automated wide field camera consists of an Apogee U4000 interline CCD coupled to a Nikon fish-eye lens enclosed in a heated container with glass window. The system contains a filter mechanism providing a suite of standard astronomical photometric filters (Bessell B, V, R), however, the absence of tracking systems, together with the ultra large field of view 85 degrees) and strong distortion have driven us to seek a unique way to build our data reduction pipeline. We present here the first measurements of sky brightness in the photometric B, V, and R band, cloud cover statistics measured during the 2009 winter season and an estimate of the transparency. In addition, we present example light curves for bright targets to emphasize the unprecedented observational window function available from this ground-based location. A ~0.2 magnitude agreement of our simultaneous test at Palomar Observatory with NSBM(National Sky Brightness Monitor), as well as an 0.04 magnitude photometric accuracy for typical 6th magnitude stars limited by the instrument design, indicating we obtained reasonable results based on our ~7mm effective aperture fish-eye lens.