The special purpose PLANET camera known as ANDICAM (A Novel Dual Imaging CAMera) saw first light on the Yale 1m telescope at CTIO on the night of 6-7 June 1998. A total of 36 images were taken in the opening night debut of ANDICAM, and its observations for PLANET continue, weather willing. The camera was commissioned by PLANET team member and instrument PI Dr. Darren DePoy of Ohio State instrument lab, and was funded in part by the National Science Foundation of the United States. A copy of the camera, known as DANDICAM (Dutch ANDICAM) and funded by the ASTRON Foundation of the Netherlands and Kapteyn Institute in Groningen, will be placed later this year at the at the SAAO 1m PLANET site in Sutherland, South Africa. The infrared facility of the cameras is expected to become operational in a few months.
Below are two views of one of the first light PLANET images of the OB-98-018 field. This is a field near the star-rich Galactic Center in which the OGLE team recently discovered a background star that appeared to brighten unexpectedly because it is being microlensed by the gravitational field of an (unseen) foreground star. The left image was taken with ANDICAM and shows the full field of 2048 x 2048 pixels, corresponding to roughly 10 minutes of arc on a side. Over 11000 stars are easy to identify in this 1-minute, unguided exposure taken in bright moon. A more careful analysis has revealed a total of more than 22000 stars.
The microlensed background star is barely visible in the left image as the green dot near the center. The image on the right is a (factor of 4) zoom; a green circle marks the position of microlensed star OB-98-018. This star has been observed to be magnified by a factor of 4 in brightness over a period of a few days due to the gravitational lensing effect of an unseen foreground star. Observations of this star continue by the PLANET and OGLE teams. Click on the images for a better view.