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The Zadko Telescope: A Southern Hemisphere Telescope for Optical Transient Searches, Multi-Messenger Astronomy and Education

  • D. M. Coward (a1), M. Todd (a2), T. P. Vaalsta (a1), M. Laas-Bourez (a1) (a3), A. Klotz (a4) (a3), A. Imerito (a1), L. Yan (a1), P. Luckas (a1), A. B. Fletcher (a1), M. G. Zadnik (a2), R. R. Burman (a1), D. G. Blair (a1), J. Zadko (a1), M. Boër (a3), P. Thierry (a4), E. J. Howell (a1), S. Gordon (a1), A. Ahmat (a1), J. A. Moore (a1) and K. Frost (a1)...


The new 1 m f/4 fast-slew Zadko Telescope was installed in June 2008 about 70 km north of Perth, Western Australia. It is the only metre-class optical facility at this southern latitude between the east coast of Australia and South Africa, and can rapidly image optical transients at a longitude not monitored by other similar facilities. We report on first imaging tests of a pilot program of minor planet searches, and Target of Opportunity observations triggered by the Swift satellite. In 12 months, 6 gamma-ray burst afterglows were detected, with estimated magnitudes; two of them, GRB 090205 (z = 4.65) and GRB 090516 (z = 4.11), are among the most distant optical transients imaged by an Australian telescope. Many asteroids were observed in a systematic 3-month search. In September 2009, an automatic telescope control system was installed, which will be used to link the facility to a global robotic telescope network; future targets will include fast optical transients triggered by high-energy satellites, radio transient detections, and LIGO gravitational wave candidate events. We also outline the importance of the facility as a potential tool for education, training, and public outreach.


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