Christopher Escalante was born and raised in Honolulu, where he graduated from William McKinley High School. He currently attends the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he plans to graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Besides being an engineering student, Christopher is also a senator-at-large in the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (ASUH), a peer advisor, and a physics tutor. His career goal is to work in the field of renewable energy and help Hawaii in its sustainability efforts.
Home Island: Honolulu
High School: William McKinley High School
Institute when accepted: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Design and Automation of a Solar Occulting System for an All-Sky Imager
Project Site: UH Institute for Astronomy
Mentor: Ryan Swindle
Project Abstract: The Wavelength-Adaptable All-Sky Polarimeter (WAASP) is an all-sky imager engineered to characterize the circular and linear polarization of the full sky at various wavelengths. The instrument will be used mainly at the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory for calibrating polarimetric images such as those from the 3.67-m Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS) telescope. WAASP makes use of a 1.4-mm, 185´185 field-of-view fisheye lens that is especially susceptible to lens flare. In order to mitigate the unwanted effects of lens flaring, we designed and automated a solar occulting system that tracks the Sun’s position and blocks its excessive light. The occulter itself is an east-west oriented semicircle aluminum strip angled at 20.7 from the zenith. Powered by a stepper motor, the occulter’s motion mimics the movement of the Sun as its declination changes throughout the year. The occulter’s tracking routine is written in IDL and uses the Julian Date to calculate the Sun’s declination to a resolution of 12 arcminutes. Our occulter design allows an elimination of lens flare by blocking only a few degrees of the sky.