The great circle camera: A new drift-scanning instrument

Dennis Zaritsky, Stephen A. Shectman, Gregory Bredthauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We discuss the design, construction, and use of a new class of scanning camera that eliminates a critical limitation of standard CCD drift-scan observations. A standard scan, which involves no correction for the differential drift rates and curved stellar paths across the field of view, suffers from severe image degradation even when one observes at moderate declinations. Not only does this effect limit the area of the sky over which drift scanning is viable but, as detector sizes increase, CCD mosaics become standard, and dome/telescope seeing improves, the area of sky for which scanning is acceptable (image degradation ≲ seeing) will be further reduced unless some action is taken. By modifying the scan path (the path on the sky traced by signal accumulated along a single CCD column) to lie along a great circle on the sky rather than along a path of constant declination, image degradation is minimized. In this paper, we discuss the design and implementation of a stage that rotates and translates the CCD during a drift-scan exposure so that the scan path is along a great circle on the sky. Data obtained during the commissioning run of the Great Circle Camera at the Las Campanas 1-m telescope are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number719
StatePublished - Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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