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  1. Marshall, Heather K. ; Spyromilio, Jason ; Usuda, Tomonori (Ed.)
    The novel 9.7m Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (SCT), utilizing aspheric dual-mirror optical system, has been constructed as a prototype medium size x-ray telescope for the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) observatory. The prototype SCT (pSCT) is designed to achieve simultaneously the wide (≥ 8°) field of view and the superior imaging resolution (0.067 per pixel) to significantly improve scientific capabilities of the observatory in conducting the sky surveys, the follow-up observations of multi-messenger transients with poorly known initial localization and the morphology studies of x-ray sources with angular extent. In this submission, we describe the hardware and software implementations of the telescope optical system as well as the methods specifically developed to align its complex optical system, in which both primary and secondary mirrors are segmented. The pSCT has detected Crab Nebula in June 2020 during ongoing commissioning, which was delayed due to worldwide pandemic and is not yet completed. Verification of pSCT performance is continuing and further improvement of optical alignment is anticipated.
  2. The angular size of a star is a critical factor in determining its basic properties. Direct measurement of stellar angular diameters is difficult: at interstellar distances stars are generally too small to resolve by any individual imaging telescope. This fundamental limitation can be overcome by studying the diffraction pattern in the shadow cast when an asteroid occults a star, but only when the photometric uncertainty is smaller than the noise added by atmospheric scintillation. Atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes used for particle astrophysics observations have not generally been exploited for optical astronomy due to the modest optical quality of the mirror surface. However, their large mirror area makes them well suited for such high-time-resolution precision photometry measurements. Here we report two occultations of stars observed by the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) Cherenkov telescopes with millisecond sampling, from which we are able to provide a direct measurement of the occulted stars’ angular diameter at the ≤0.1 mas scale. This is a resolution never achieved before with optical measurements and represents an order of magnitude improvement over the equivalent lunar occultation method. We compare the resulting stellar radius with empirically derived estimates from temperature and brightness measurements, confirming the latter canmore »be biased for stars with ambiguous stellar classifications.« less