Observatory Utilizes Canon Optical System

Canon (Tokyo) — Canon Inc. announced today that 84 of the Company’s ultra-high-sensitivity CMOS sensors provided to the University of Tokyo Institute of Astronomy’s Kiso Observatory have been employed as part of “Tomo-e Gozen,” a new observation system on a 105 cm Schmidt telescope that will commence full operation from October 2019.

The main facility of Kiso Observatory, a 105-cm-diameter Schmidt telescope, has been used by astronomers for research activities since 1974. The Tomo-e Gozen system comprises an astronomical wide-field video camera and AI software and was newly developed with the aim of understanding the transient universe. Since 2014, Canon has provided the University of Tokyo with ultra-high-sensitivity CMOS sensors and cooperated in the development of the Tomo-e Gozen system. The camera part of Tomo-e Gozen was completed in April 2019 and, following a half-year engineering period, will commence full operation in October.

The wide-field video camera of Tomo-e Gozen uses Canon 35mm full-frame ultra-high-sensitivity CMOS sensors. While with typical image sensors noise tends to increase along with increases in pixel size, the Canon sensor features large 19µm x 19µm (micrometers) pixels and realizes ultra-high sensitivity with reduced noise. The 84 sensors of Tomo-e Gozen, with approximately 190 million pixels in total, obtain ultra-wide-field video data covering 20 square degrees of the sky.

The Tomo-e Gozen system—which can obtain a variety of ultra-high-sensitivity and wide-field videos of space—will make possible the observation of scientifically important phenomena, such as supernovae explosions just after they occur and small asteroids that present a risk of colliding with the earth. The system is also expected to contribute to understanding the origins of life and the universe.

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