Positional Accuracy

by Stephan W. Witz last modified Apr 11, 2012

The accuracy with which an object's position can be determined is limited by the atmospheric phase stability, the closeness of a suitable (astrometric) calibrator, and the calibrator-source cycle time. Under good conditions, in A configuration, accuracies of about 0.05 arcseconds can be obtained. Under more normal conditions, accuracies of perhaps 0.1 arcseconds can be expected. Under extraordinary conditions (probably attained only a few times per year on calm winter nights in A configuration when using rapid phase switching on a nearby astrometric calibrator - see Rapid Phase Calibration and the Atmospheric Phase Interferometer (API)), accuracies of 1 milliarcsecond have been attained with the VLA.

If highly accurate positions are desired, only "A" code (astrometric) calibrators from the VLA Calibrator List (http://www.vla.nrao.edu/astro/calib/manual/) should be used. The positions of these sources are taken from lists published by the United States Naval Observatory (USNO).