Measurement of atmospheric scintillation during a period of Saharan dust (Calima) at observatorio del Teide, Izãna, Tenerife, and the impact on photometric exposure times

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We present scintillation noise profiles captured at the Observatorio del Teide, Izaña, Tenerife, over a one-week period in 2017 September. Contemporaneous data from the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network (BiSON) and the Stellar Activity (STELLA) robotic telescopes provides estimates of daily atmospheric extinction allowing the scintillation noise to be placed within the context of overall atmospheric conditions. We discuss the results both in terms of the impact on BiSON spectrophotometer design, and for astronomical observations more generally. We find that scintillation noise power reduces by half at about 5 Hz, and is reduced to one tenth between 20 and 30 Hz even during periods of mild Calima, where visibility is reduced due to high concentrations of mineral dust in the atmosphere. We show that the common accepted exposure time of <10 ms for limiting the effect of scintillation noise in ground based photometry may be increased, and that depending on the application there may be little benefit to achieving exposure times shorter than 50 ms, relaxing constraints on detector gain and bandwidth.


Original languageEnglish
Article number034501
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number1009
Early online date28 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Atmospheric effects