Recommended Field Site Practices

Many of us graduated from institutions with long-held traditions in the fields of optical Airglow and Aurora. We absorbed the “tricks of the trade” as if by osmosis, things rarely written down. However, the times are changing. There is a recent emergence, in several nations, of newly-created research groups focussing on optical work, and a whole new generation of brilliant young scientists who have never had the hands-on field training, provided by highly experienced senior advisors, that many of us took for granted.

In response to popular demand, we are pleased to present a document (link below) with some basic guidelines which we hope will be of some use when planning the construction or preparation of a field-site observatory at which optical instrumentation — e.g., imagers, spectrographs, photometers, and interferometers — are to be deployed and operated.

There are many important considerations to keep in mind, and this document is largely based upon our own personal field-experience in the area of auroral and airglow photometry. Other research groups may have different ways of doing things, established ways that work very well, and none of what is included here is meant to criticize or supersede that — these are suggestions only. Some of the material may seem trivial or elementary to some, but it is included here as we have learned through actual, hard experience that we cannot afford to presume that something is intuitive or that it “goes without saying.”

The document (PDF file, 6MB), which you may feel free to disseminate within your organization, may be accessed through the following link:

We invite you to leave any additional field-work related suggestions you might have in the REPLY field below. We may use some of this information in an upcoming revision of our document, with your permission. I also invite you to submit photos (via email) of your particular field station and instrument setup, possibly to be featured in a future blog post, as it might provide inspiration to other research groups.

PHOTO: Keo’s Devin Wyatt and myself recently travelled to Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, the northernmost inhabited place on Earth, with an around the year population of only ~35 souls. There, we installed a Keo Fabry-Pérot Interferometer for the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI). The observatory, shown in the photo, sits on a windswept outcropping just outside of town. Our FPI comes with an Environmental Control Unit which is able to provide the FPI with a safe operating environment whilst keeping the dome clear of condensation, snow and ice, even under the most extreme conditions — indeed, the only clear dome seen in the photo is the dome under which this FPI is running.

Posted by Trond Trondsen

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