Observatory Operations


Getting on the Sky

  1. Early evening, sun still up:


    1. Power up dome computer
    2. Release the dome tie downs, and manually move dome a bit to break any sticktion
    3. Open the dome slit
    4. Prop the observatory door open to allow temperature to equalize. (Consider using a fan if temperatures get too warm in the observatory).
    5. Fire up CyberDrive dome control software:
      1. "Connect" Dome
      2. go to Azimuth 305 to return to proper South starting point (I park the dome at an odd angle to put the shutter into the wind
      3. "Sync" to tell the dome it is now pointing South
      4. go to Azimuth 325 to keep the scope out of the sun
  2. Early twilight, sun just down:
    1. Remove cover from scope
    2. Switch on scope, dome, dew heater?, and camera.  (If scope, and dome were properly shut down, then all should be aligned.)
    3. Fire up observatory software in the house:
      1. MaxIm DL/CCD for camera control.
        1. "Connect" to camera and begin CCD cool down
        2. Make sure FITS header information is correct
      2. ACP to control the scope
        1. "Connect" to scope and [Set scope time from PC] since scope clock is not very accurate
        2. Minimize ACP to reduce CCD download interference during ACP display updates.
      3. TheSky for planetarium, objects, and other data bases
        1. Verify "Data / Site Information" (sometimes I've been running simulations on other places and times)
        2. Telescope / Link / Establish to get TheSky to talk to ACP
        3. "Suspend link" so that constant polling does not interfere with CCD downloads
      4. CyberDrive dome control software
        1. "Connect" Telescope
        2. Turn on "Slave Mode
  3. "Goto" a bright star, and take a short image to verify sky sync.
  4. Before imaging:
    1. Turn on JMI focuser and touch up focus due to temperature changes since last imaging run. (should only need to use JMI focuser, main mirror should be fine.)
    2. Lower CCD temperature as much as possible

Dome Flats

Taking a dome flat

Flats are uniformly illuminated images used to calibrate real data.

- 1/2 a classic light box (light source and diffuser)

- a round white spot on the dome as a reflector

The neat thing is that its dark enough in the day time that I can take good flats anytime.

Shutting Down

MaxIm DL / CCD control window

This sequence is ordered carefully so that the CCD is not disturbed for or during dark frame acquisition.

  1. Run JMI focus to 0 and turn it off.
  2. Shut down CyberDrive control:
    1. turn off "Slave Mode"
    2. Go to 55 Azimuth to turn dome into the wind
    3. "Disconnect"  Dome and Scope
    4. Exit CyberDrive
  3. Shut down the scope control:
    1. Disconnect TheSky via Telescope / Link / Terminate (Say yes to "Park?")
    2. Exit TheSky
    3. Shut down ACP software
    4. Exit ACP
  4. Begin automatic dark sequencing for the imaging that's been done (see script)
  5. Head out to the dome:
    1. Keep it dark (dark exposures under way)
    2. Power down the scope , dome, and dew heater
    3. Cap the scope
    4. Close the dome slit
    5. Tie down the dome
  6. Sleep
  7. Warm up camera, and shut down camera software
  8. Power down camera