The Earth’s atmosphere is an integral part of the detector in ground-based imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescope (IACT) experiments and has to be taken into account in the calibration. Atmospheric and hardware-related deviations from simulated conditions can result in the mis-reconstruction of primary particle energies and therefore of source spectra. During the eight years of observations with the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in Namibia, the overall yield in Cherenkov photons has varied strongly with time due to gradual hardware aging, together with adjustments of the hardware components, and natural, as well as anthropogenic, variations of the atmospheric transparency. Here we present robust data selection criteria that minimize these effects over the full data set of the H.E.S.S. experiment and introduce the Cherenkov transparency coefficient as a new atmospheric monitoring quantity. The influence of atmospheric transparency, as quantified by this coefficient, on energy reconstruction and spectral parameters is examined and its correlation with the aerosol optical depth (AOD) of independent MISR satellite measurements and local measurements of atmospheric clarity is investigated.
Date added: Tue, 8 Oct 13