Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Research article
06 Oct 2016
Research article |  | 06 Oct 2016

Auroral meridian scanning photometer calibration using Jupiter

Brian J. Jackel, Craig Unick, Fokke Creutzberg, Greg Baker, Eric Davis, Eric F. Donovan, Martin Connors, Cody Wilson, Jarrett Little, M. Greffen, and Neil McGuffin

Abstract. Observations of astronomical sources provide information that can significantly enhance the utility of auroral data for scientific studies. This report presents results obtained by using Jupiter for field cross calibration of four multispectral auroral meridian scanning photometers during the 2011–2015 Northern Hemisphere winters. Seasonal average optical field-of-view and local orientation estimates are obtained with uncertainties of 0.01 and 0.1°, respectively. Estimates of absolute sensitivity are repeatable to roughly 5 % from one month to the next, while the relative response between different wavelength channels is stable to better than 1 %. Astronomical field calibrations and darkroom calibration differences are on the order of 10 %. Atmospheric variability is the primary source of uncertainty; this may be reduced with complementary data from co-located instruments.

Short summary
In order to compare auroral observations, it is necessary to ensure that all instruments are properly calibrated. This can be difficult to achieve with different instruments operated for extended intervals at remote field sites under harsh conditions. Astronomical sources can be used for independent absolute calibration procedures. Under ideal conditions Jupiter is an excellent source, as it can provide more light than the brightest star. We use Jupiter to calibrate an auroral MSP network.