We present the MeerLICHT and BlackGEM telescopes, which are wide-field optical telescopes that are currently being built to study transient phenomena, gravitational wave counterparts and variable stars. The telescopes have 65 cm primary mirrors and a 2.7 square degree field-of-view. The MeerLICHT and BlackGEM projects have different science goals, but will use identical telescopes. The first telescope, MeerLICHT, will be commissioned at Sutherland (South Africa) in the first quarter of 2017. It will co-point with MeerKAT to collect optical data commensurate with the radio observations. After careful analysis of MeerLICHT's performance, three telescopes of the same type will be commissioned in La Silla (Chile) in 2018 to form phase I of the BlackGEM array. BlackGEM aims at detecting and characterizing optical counterparts of gravitational wave events detected by Advanced LIGO and Virgo. In this contribution we present an overview of the science goals, the design and the status of the two projects.

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Keywords Blackgem, Gravitational waves, Meerlicht, Optical telescope, Synoptic survey
Stakeholder Sybilla Technologies Sp. z o.o., Toruńska 59, Bydgoszcz, Poland, Airborne , Cilium Engineering Sp. z o.o.
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.2232522
Conference SPIE Ground-Based and Airborne Telescopes VI
Project LAD: Layered Astronomical Databases
Grant This work was funded by the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO); grant id nwo/628.002.004 - LAD: Layered Astronomical Databases
Bloemen, S. (Steven), Groot, P.J. (Paul J.), Woudt, P. (Patrick), Wolt, M.K. (Marc Klein), Mcbride, V. (Vanessa), Nelemans, G. (Gijs), … Sybilski, P.W. (Piotr W.). (2016). 3MeerLICHT and BlackGEM: custom-built telescopes to detect faint optical transients. In Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering. doi:10.1117/12.2232522