DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stae727 ISSN: 0035-8711

Astronomical Seeing and Turbulence Profile Simulations over Complex Terrain at the Thai National Observatory Using a Chemistry-Coupled Regional Forecasting Model

Ronald Macatangay, Somsawatt Rattanasoon, Timothy Butterley, Sherin Hassan Bran, Thiranan Sonkaew, Boonchoo Sukaum, Donrudee Sookjai, Mana Panya, Titaporn Supasri
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


This study utilized advanced numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) to predict anticipated astronomical seeing conditions at the Thai National Observatory (TNO). The study evaluated the effects of both gas-phase and aerosol-phase chemical processes in the Earth's atmosphere, along with the impact of spatial and temporal resolution on model performance. These simulations were validated against measurements from the Differential Image Motion Monitor (DIMM) and the Slope Detection and Ranging (SLODAR) technique. Due to the inherent temporal variability of the DIMM observations, a 24-hour moving average window was applied to both DIMM data and WRF-Chem model outputs. This reduced the percentage root-mean-square error in the comparison between the two datasets from 23% to 11% and increased the correlation coefficient from 0.21 to 0.59. Chemistry played a minor role during the study period, contributing 3.49% to astronomical seeing. However, it did affect the model's accuracy. Additionally, the study revealed that higher spatial and temporal resolution simulations did not necessarily improve the model's accuracy. When compared to SLODAR observations of the refractive index structure constant (Cn2dh), the simulations captured altitude variations within ±25% above 5 km and 25-50% below 5 km. Dome seeing also played a role, contributing to around 90% or more in the lowest altitude layer. The results emphasized the significance of seeing predictions in providing valuable insights into complex atmospheric phenomena and how to mitigate the effects of atmospheric turbulence on telescopes.

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