The performance of ground based telescopes has historically been limited by the atmospheric conditions at the site. These include the atmospheric turbulence that degrades the image quality and the weather conditions that limit observations. Site testing prior to the construction of any modern astronomical facility is critical to optimize the performance of the telescope in terms of image quality and on-sky operations. Site monitoring increases the efficiency of an observatory by catering the observing program to the conditions and developing models to be used in the design adaptive optic systems. The advent of adaptive optic systems has revolutionized the performance of ground based telescopes by correcting the imaging degradation due to the atmospheric turbulence. Understanding these technologies will be critical to maximize the performance of new observatories that are currently being developed around Africa.
The Atmosphere Characterization and Adaptive Optics Summer School to be held 3-7 December 2012 in Sutherland, South Africa provides an introduction into the principles of atmospheric turbulence, the methods for measuring and monitoring the atmospheric conditions, and advance technology to correct degraded astronomical observations.