Cheryl Fujioka was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai‘i and is a graduate of Honoka‘a High School.  She will be a senior at Western Washington University in the fall, and is majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Physics and Astronomy.  Cheryl always had a keen interest in astronomy and the mysteries our universe has to offer.  She hopes to go on to graduate school and pursue a PhD in Mathematics or Astrophysics.

Home Island: Big Island
High School: Honoka’a High School
Institution when accepted: Western Washington University

Akamai Project: Automating the Second-Generation VYSOS All-Sky Camera
Project Site: UH Institute for Astronomy
Mentor: Josh Walawender

Project Abstract:

Currently, there are two small, automated telescopes near the summit of Mauna Loa working as part of the Variable Young Stars Optical Survey (VYSOS).  These telescopes take repeated images of known star-forming regions and measure the brightness of all stars in each image.  Variations in the brightness of these young stars are thought to be related to several different phenomena, and analysis of this data will lead to more information about the formation of these stars.  The two VYSOS telescopes are assisted by an all-sky camera that measures night-sky cloud coverage to determine the area of the sky with the best conditions.  The goal of this project is to program a second-generation STL-6303e SBIG all-sky camera using the C computer language.  With an 8-mm fisheye lens, the STL will be able to view approximately 180 degrees of the sky.  Using CCDOpsLite software, we were able to manually test and interact with the camera’s functions and capabilities.  Next, we programmed basic functions such as turning the device on, establishing a link with the computer, taking an exposure, organizing the digitized pixel data, and converting it into FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) images, the standard used by astronomers.  We also programmed the controls for the filter, time, and temperature commands.  We automated the camera to start operating shortly after sunset, take images with different filters throughout the night, and shut down before sunrise.  Ultimately, the all-sky camera will be completely automated and installed on Mauna Loa to operate alongside the pair of VYSOS telescopes.