We are pleased to announce that VATTSpec had its "first light" tonight! While more work remains to be done fine-tuning the alignment and calibrating the instrument, this represents a major milestone in bringing VATTSpec on-line for scientific operation.
VATTSpec is a medium resolution spectrograph and is an important addition to the instrumentation offered at the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT). The imagers currently used at VATT are cameras, much like the camera in your cell phone except larger and more sophisticated. A spectrograph, on the other hand, is designed to spread out the light, the same way a prism spread sunlight apart into its different colors. This spectral information complements the imaging data to help astronomers learn about the age, composition, and evolution of stars and galaxies.