ABSTRACT: Rotational Shear Interferometers (RSI) have a variety of uses in astronomical applications, including wave-front sensing for Adaptive Optics (AO) systems, simultaneous spatial/spectral imaging, extra-solar planet finding, etc. The RSI's utility is derived from its ability to vary its arm lengths, which can be used to measure temporal coherence, and its ability to interfere a rotated beam with respect to itself to recover spatial coherence. In this project, an RSI was coupled with a 10" Newtonian-type reflector telescope, using a set of optics to match the spot sizes and direct the interfered light onto a CCD. Several sources of varying intensities and spatial characteristics were imaged with the system in the lab, in preparation to move the RSI to the Three College Observatory (TCO) facility near Burlington, NC. Preparation included (1) the imaging of simulated binary systems of low intensity to determine the limits of the system, (2) the writing of a "choreography" model of observation for the TCO facility, and (3) the theoretical and experimental determination of the relationships between the various input variables of the image- gathering program. It was determined that the RSI, with its current optics and software support, is incapable of correcting for atmospheric disturbances; its brightness limit was found to be approximately eighth magnitude for a 1 meter telescope, betraying a large photon loss.
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