Changes between Initial Version and Version 1 of Operations

Jul 30, 2021, 7:41:27 AM (16 months ago)



  • Operations

    v1 v1  
     2== Instrumentation ==
     3All instrumentation is mounted at the Newtonian focus at the front of the telescope.
     5The focuser is an Optec TCF-S.
     6=== Imaging ===
     8Using a QSI 583 science camera, connected with a Type A USB cable. The science CCD is usually set to a temperature of -20° C, but on very hot nights may not reach that temperature.
     9Typical field of view is 18.4x13.8 arcminutes, with an unbinned plate scale of ~0.33"/pixel and an array size of 3326x2504 px. Available filters are B,V,R,I, and clear. Typical read noise is ~8 electrons. QSI583 has 5-slot filter wheel, offering B,V,R,I, and clear filters.
     11The guide camera is a [ Starlight Xpress "Lodestar"] autoguider, installed in the integrated port on the science camera. The guide camera points 17' south of the center of the science field. Guider has a plate scale of ~0.5"/pixel and a field of view of 6.14x4.85 arcminutes, with a pixel array size of 752x580 pixels. The guider is uncooled. ACP Scheduler does not attempt autoguiding for exposures shorter than 250 seconds. The guide camera requires several small spacers to make it parfocal with science camera, and is connected with a mini-USB cable.
     13MaximDL: QSI Universal, SX Universal drivers.
     15Camera needs to have a coma corrector in front of it, which pushes focus back. This results in an effective focal ratio of f/5.6 (f/5 without). Ring is installed on camera to position for approximate focus, coma corrector mounts into focuser quite a ways.
     17In March 2021, we installed a new camera, a QHY 600, with a new filter wheel (QHY CFW3-XL) and new off axis guider (QHY OAG-L). This camera has a much larger detector, which is a CMOS detector. The pixels are small (3.76 microns); MaximDL allows 1x1 or 2x2 binning, and the latter tives about 0.46 arcsec/pixel with the coma corrector. With the 2" coma corrector, the field is vignetted, but the unvignetter regions is still fairly large (~25 arcmin diameter). In the new setup, the guider is located approximately. 34 arcmin S, 5 arcmin E.
     19=== Spectroscopy ===
     21Using low res (R=1000) longslit [ LISA spectrograph], with SBIG ST-10 science camera, and ATIK Titan slit-viewing camera. Calibration lamps are quartz (continuum) and neon.
     23Spectrograph should be mounted with coma corrector screwed onto it.
     25SBIG has its own power supply, type A USB. ATIK gets power through USB, plus separate power for TEC, type A USB; care must be taken with what USB is connected to ATIK: appears to work through USB cable extender, but NOT through Icron.
     27In MaxIM DL, use SBIG Universal, and ArtemisHSC
     29ATIK is first focused on the slit (can be done off telescope). Rotation of slit can also be adjusted.
     31== Webcams ==
     32TMO is equipped with two webcams inside the dome. The [ dome webcam] is located on the western wall above the desk, facing east towards the dome home position, and the [ telescope dials webcam] is mounted on the telescope pier, for looking at the telescope Dec/HA dials. The webcam internet site must be accessed through Internet Explorer or Safari, as it does not work with Firefox. Note that the :88 must be included in the URL. Does not work on Linux machines, as there are no plugins available for them; but you can probably just log into VNC and view them through the computer at TMO.
     33The webcams have IR LEDs on them, and can pan to look around. On the webcam page, there is a switch for turning the IR lights on and off. If imaging in the red/IR or not using the webcams, turn the IR lights off.
     35== Operations ==
     36Accessing the computer controlling TMO ( is done via VNC Viewer.
     38This is for a cold start, for example if you have just rebooted the computer.
     39Start !FocusMax first, which will open the focuser window. !FocusMax will automatically start MaximDL, which controls the imager and guide cameras. In MaximDL, click the icon that looks like an observatory, which will bring up another window. Here, in the Setup tab: connect to the telescope, which will pull up the telescope control window, and connect to !FocusMax. (Even though !FocusMax automatically starts MaximDL, you still have to tell Maxim to connect to !FocusMax.) You don't need to connect to the dome through MaximDL, as that is controlled through ACP.
     41Next, start ACP (not ACP Dome Control). This is sort of a one-stop shop for control of all the other programs, and provides some useful information regarding things like local sidereal time. If you are observing manually, you can connect to the dome and telescope now; if running Scheduler, the automatic startup script will take care of that.
     42=== Manual Observing ===
     43If you're not going to observe with Scheduler, the [ ACP webpage] is probably your best option.
     44In the ACP window (not the webpage) there is also a place to run scripts; the !StartupObs script will get the observatory ready, and the !AutoFocusScheduler will automatically find a suitable star and focus the telescope for you. Both of these scripts are incorporated into Scheduler's usual routine.
     46=== Scheduler ===
     47Although we have started ACP, for typical remote observing we tend to go one step higher, and start ACP Scheduler. This also opens a weather station window. Clicking the checkbox for "Dispatcher Running" will begin operation. Scheduler will only start observing once conditions are right (weather is OK, it's dark, etc.), so you can start it during the day and it won't do anything until nighttime. Startup and dome opening occurs 60 minutes after sunset, and object observation begins once the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. In the morning, Scheduler will also take sky twilight flats.
     48However, be aware that the scheduler will keep running every night (assuming conditions are okay) until you tell it not to.
     49We don't really want this behavior, so in the morning following an observation run you need to pull up the webcam, make sure the dome is closed, and uncheck the dispatcher box. Problems and such should be stored in the logs; the only major emergency is if the dome does not close.
     51Scheduler is organized via "programs", which contain objects of interest. Objects contain observations, which is where exposure time, binning, etc. is specified. Scheduler can be accessed via the desktop program, or via the [ webpage].
     53== Slewing ==
     54Slewing can be accomplished through the ACP program, which provides a deep sky catalog and various bright stars, or through the Scitech telescope controller. The "Nudge" window in ACP allows you to offset the telescope in any direction.
     56Appears that entering coordinates in ACP does not work, as it seems to want telescope topocentric coordinates?   You can enter J2000 coordinates in Scitech controller with J2000 box checked.
     58== Data and Logs ==
     60Data is stored on the local computer, and is automatically synced to the NMSU Astronomy servers every two hours. As far as I know, AAVSO also does this roughly once a day. On the Astronomy computers, it is located at /home/tmo/, which is the same as [].
     62ACP stores logs per object; this can be pretty inconvenient if you just want an idea of what it did all night. Therefore we have a script which concatenates these logs into summary logs for each night, helpfully stored in /summary_logs/.
     64Logs contain a lot of information; here's a quick guide. The software attempts to "plate solve", which looks at the image and tries to correlate it to a star catalog to make sure the pointing is okay. Pointing information is also included in the log; after slewing pointing error may be as high as half an arcminute, but will (hopefully) quickly be corrected with subsequent exposures. The software will also do occasional focus runs, and calculate other values of interest including plate scale, focal length, FWHM (seeing), and field of view.
     66Other useful locations:
     68/Images/[date]/!AutoFlat/ contains any flats taken on that date.
     70/ACP_Astronomy/Scheduler_Engine_Logs/ contains scheduler logs, detailing every object's availability and whether it tried to observe them or not.
     72/Logs/ contains autofocus routine logs.
     74/Logs/!AutoFlat/ contains auto-flat routine logs.
     76/ACP_Web_Data/Doc_Root/images/TM61/[date]/ contains any manual observations taken on that date (as long as they were taken through the ACP webpage).