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International Conference December 31 (2010) – January 2 (2011)
Pre-conference tours: Mona Loa & Mona Kea - December 29 & 30, 2010
Post-conference tour: Volcanoes National Park - January 3, 2011
Canada France Hawaii Observatory Headquarters
Waimea (near Kona), the Big Island of Hawaii

Conference Organizers
Russell Genet, California Polytechnic State University,
Bruce Holenstein, Gravic, Inc.,
Local Host: Josh Walawender, University of Hawaii,
Coordinator: Jolyon Johnson, California State University, Chico


This conference will be held in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii at the headquarters of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope.  The goals of the conference are two fold.  First, to describe the scientific research programs that would most benefit from telescopes which are so low in cost (both construction and operation) that entire telescopes or even arrays of telescopes can be dedicated to specific research programs.  Second, to explore how new technologies can be applied to developing lightweight, low cost, 1-3 meter “light bucket” telescopes and their instrumentation. 

Jacquelyn Mitton, in the Cambridge Dictionary of Astronomy (2001), defines a light bucket as “A colloquial expression for a flux collector.”  She defines a flux collector, in turn, as “A telescope designed solely to collect radiation in order to measure its intensity or to carry out spectral analysis,” mentioning that, “No attempt is made to form an image so a flux collector can have a more crudely figured reflective surface than a conventional telescope.” We have extended Mitton’s light bucket definition to include photometric CCD “imaging” with low quality, low cost optics (typically several waves as opposed to quarter wave or better optics).   

Light bucket telescopes excel in comparison with smaller aperture more expensive diffraction-limited telescopes when the sky background is a small or nearly negligible source of noise. This situation can occur when: (1) the object being observed is very bright, (2) the integration times
are very short and hence photon arrival noise becomes important,
(3) scintillation noise becomes a dominant noise source, (4) the bandwidth is very narrow or the light is spread out as in spectroscopy resulting in significant photon arrival noise, or (5) noise from the detector is dominant, as it can be in the near infrared. Although the conference emphasis will be on midsized-aperture (1.0- to 3.0-m), relatively low-cost, lightweight (often transportable), flux collector telescopes, much larger light bucket telescopes, such as Cherenkov radiation telescopes, will also be discussed. 

Science programs well suited for light bucket astronomy include: many high speed phenomena, including lunar and asteroid occultations; fast cadence, high precision CCD photometry; near infrared diaphragm-limiting or area photometry; low to medium resolution spectroscopy; and polarimetry. Finally, we note that an array of a half-dozen light bucket telescopes equipped with very high speed photometers could, with their many two-telescope combinations, provide images of the surfaces of nearby stars via intensity interferometry—a quantum-mechanical effect that occurs at sub-nanosecond timescales. Such an array would be a modern extension of Hanbury Brown’s pioneering research, decades ago, with his two-telescope interferometer in Narrabri, Australia. 

Conference Specifics
Invited PowerPoint talks will be 20 minutes in length.  Alternatively, all attendees are welcome to display a poster for the entire conference. 
Mid-morning breaks will be set aside for poster discussions. Written versions of selected talks from the conference will be combined with other contributions to the book Light Bucket Astronomy, which will be published by the Collins Foundation Press

Pre-conference tours are being arranged for Mauna Loa Observatory
(on Wednesday December 29) and Mauna Kea Observatories on Thursday December 30.  Post conference tour to Volcanoes National Park will be arranged if there is sufficient interest. Accompanying guests will be welcome on the tours and evening functions. 

All attendees need to register. The modest registration fee covers miscellaneous conference expenses and morning refreshments.  Local accommodations are reasonably priced.  The Big Island of Hawaii is ideal for a family vacationClick here for special information for astronomer's visiting the Big Island

For additional Information please see:

AltAz Initiative -
Canada France Hawaii Telescope -
NASA Infrared Telescope Facility -
Gemini Telescope -
Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station -
Mauna Loa Observatory -

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