Portrait of an Observing Run - Preparing for Observations


A torch for your Life

You should find a torch in your hotel room. If not, ask for it at the Reception (Communications room). Always carry it on you and flash it around while on nocturnal jaunts. Cars are driven with very low illumination to minimise light pollution and so the torch is your only protection against being run over!

Contact your support astronomer

Contact your support astronomer as soon as you are ready for the introduction.The best way to do so will be to get him/her on his/her beeper --- Dial 90 from any phone and after the single beep dial 04. At the end of the subsequent flurry of beeps speak clearly your phone number several times. You have some 10 seconds to convey the information. Hang up and your support astronomer will call you back and fix a meeting place and time. This first meeting will be to briefly discuss your programme and strategy, identify the areas in which you need help and fix up a time for a more detailed meeting during that night. The support astronomer will probably be busy with the observer of that night from about 3.30 PM until about an hour after sunset, and may not be available at all if he/she is doing service or calibration night observations.

Instrumental Setup

The observer is expected to discuss his/her observing strategy with the support astronomer and finalise the instrumental setup (Filters, Grisms and Slits) at the earliest, taking into consideration the requirements of the programme and the choices available. Changes to the instrumental setup must be requested at least 24 hours (preferably 36 hours, i.e. the previous afternoon) in advance of the night for which they are required. Do this by submiting the online setup requestion form, with the help of your support astronomer. Changing the instrumental set-up during the night is not permitted; it could result in the loss of a substantial amount of observing time.

Phase 2 Proposal Preparation

Starting with Period 66 (October, 2000) the Java based version of P2PP (v2.x)  is being used to execute the observations. The P2PP generates observing blocks which are used by the telescope and instrument control systems to set up the appropriate configuration and execute the observation. So, it is important that the observer has a good working knowledge of P2PP for utilising the allocated time in an efficient manner. A (slightly out of date, but still useful) brief outline of the steps involved in running P2PP for EFOSC2 at La Silla is given here. It is not, however, intended to be a substitute (not by far!) for reading the P2PP Manual.

While the support astronomer will provide a basic tutorial for using P2PP it is important that observers gain some familiarity with P2PP before coming to La Silla (or  at the least arrive at the Observatory two days in advance of the observations). For descriptions of the different observing modes and the corresponding P2PP parameters please follow the links from the table of Observing Modes on the instrument overview page.

If you have already prepared your observing blocks you will only have to ask your support astronomer for the appropriate computer user account to load them.

Visiting the telescope

Many visiting astronomers express a desire to visit the control room (the control room for all three ESO telescopes is in the RITZ control building, near the NTT) while observations are going on before the start of their run, typically the previous night, to get a feel for the telescope and the instrument (the ease of operation, time overheads, layout of the control room, etc). This is allowed as long as such activites do not interfere with the observations.

At all times, permission must be obtained from the telescope team (such as the coordinator) before visiting the telescope itself. Please call to the RITZ before entering. In particular the decision whether someone can enter the telescope building rests entirely with the team, and one should not invite "a friend" to the telescope without clearing this first with the team. For safety reasons at no time can a visitor wander around the telescope building without supervision. There is generally no need for visiting astronomers to access the telescope building during the night.

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