Astronomical Simulations for Instruments & Telescopes

On the 10-12th October 2011 was held the "Following the Photons" workshop on Astronomical Simulations for Instruments & Telescopes at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh (ROE).

The scientific questions posed by modern astronomy require facilities and surveys with greater complexity and data volumes than ever before. To ensure the maximum return from the investment in these facilities, simulations have become an integral ingredient in their design and operation, and in the extraction of optimum scientific results from the observations. These simulations span each stage of the system, from realistic modelling of astronomical sources through to detector performances.
This three-day workshop will provide an informal and vibrant forum to discuss simulation efforts across a range of new and future facilities, in part to highlight the essential role that such efforts now play in astronomy. The programme will include contributions relating to telescopes and instruments that have recently entered operation or that are currently in the construction or planning phases (e.g. Herschel, PanSTARRS, ALMA, Gaia, JWST, E-ELT, Euclid and others).

Presentations and Programme

The full programme and all presentations can be downloaded:

Filmed presentations of "Adding Atmosphere"

Below are presentations given on the day of the ROE workshop during the "Adding Atmosphere" session, 11th October 2011.

Richard Wilson, University of Durham

Abstract: Numerical simulation of the effects of atmospheric turbulence and seeing is increasingly important in the development of optical instrumentation for ground-based astronomy, in particular for the application of adaptive optics. I will describe recent advances in the characterisation of optical turbulence above major observatories, and their impact on the implementation of realistic numerical simulations.

Richard Massay, University of Edinburgh


Phil Marshall, University of Oxford

Abstract: The images taken by large synoptic surveys are necessarily taken in a wide range of observing conditions; modelling this data in order to extract as much information as possible is a challenge. Using mock data generated by the LSST image simulator, we are developing algorithms to solve two problems in particular: 1) how to interpolate a model PSF shape in between noisily observed, sparsely distributed star positions where the shape pattern is dominated by atmospheric turbulence, and 2) how to identify the one in a million extended objects that is actually a gravitationally-lensed quasar. I will show some recent progress, and highlight the most important features of the simulations for this work.

Alastair Basden, University of Durham

Abstract: We present details of a real-time adaptive optics simulation tool currently under development at Durham which mimics the physical components of an AO system and interfaces to an on-sky-tested AO real-time control system (DARC) which provide pixel handling and wavefront reconstruction. This system will allow simulation s to operate at real-time rates, greatly increasing the parameter space that can be explored for a given instrument in a set time. We also present recent simulation results for EAGLE and other AO instruments including EPICS, WX1 and CANARY and a study of pixel processing algorithms. Furthermore, we will discuss the architecture used for these simulations which allows flexibility and provides an ideal tool for investigating complex simulation scenarios.

Discussion Chaired By Simon Morris, University of Durham

Abstract: Adding Atmosphere end of session discussions.