Observing Strategy for the Legacy Surveys
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Observing Strategy for the Legacy Surveys

  • Author(s): Burleigh, Kaylan J
  • Landriau, Martin
  • Dey, Arjun
  • Lang, Dustin
  • Schlegel, David J
  • Nugent, Peter E
  • Blum, Robert
  • Findlay, Joseph R
  • Finkbeiner, Douglas P
  • Herrera, David
  • Honscheid, Klaus
  • Juneau, Stéphanie
  • McGreer, Ian
  • Meisner, Aaron M
  • Moustakas, John
  • Myers, Adam D
  • Patej, Anna
  • Schlafly, Edward F
  • Valdes, Francisco
  • Walker, Alistair R
  • Weaver, Benjamin A
  • Yèche, Christophe
  • et al.

The Legacy Surveys, a combination of three ground-based imaging surveys, have mapped 16,000 deg$^2$ in three optical bands ($g$, $r$, and $z$) to a depth 1--$2$~mag deeper than the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Our work addresses one of the major challenges of wide-field imaging surveys conducted at ground-based observatories: the varying depth that results from varying observing conditions at Earth-bound sites. To mitigate these effects, two of the Legacy Surveys (the Dark Energy Camera Legacy Survey, or DECaLS; and the Mayall $z$-band Legacy Survey, or MzLS) employed a unique strategy to dynamically adjust the exposure times as rapidly as possible in response to the changing observing conditions. We present the tiling and observing strategies used by these surveys. We demonstrate that the tiling and dynamic observing strategies jointly result in a more uniform-depth survey that has higher efficiency for a given total observing time compared with the traditional approach of using fixed exposure times.

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