Subject: Minutes for APO User's Committee meeting, 12/07/09

From: Michael Strauss

Submitted: Fri, 11 Dec 2009 15:20:11 -0500

Message number: 1162 (previous: 1161, next: 1163 up: Index)

		APO User's Meeting meeting, December 7, 2009

Attending: Suzanne Hawley, Mark Klaene, Jon Fulbright, John Bally, Al
Harper, Jon Holtzman, Michael Strauss, Scott Anderson; apologies if I
missed your name!

 There was no specific telescope feedback from any of the

 The telescope report from Mark Klaene is included at the end of these
minutes.  The big news is the heavy snow that hit the observatory last
week; just as the observatory has recovered from this, it was hit by a
wide-spread power outage that is now resolved. The snow outage reminds
us that we should have a procedure to contact observers (especially if
they are planning to travel to the telescope!) if the site is
closed/inaccessible due to extreme weather.

 Agile has no guider.  Tracking tests show good performance now with
the new drive motors and axis controllers, approx. 3" drift in an hour
with no guiding.  However some science applications require precision
photometry beyond the ability to flatfield, and hence want the object
to be stationary on the same pixel(s).  The performance at NA2
indicates that we are able to track within about one pixel for an hour
when guiding.  We are looking into guiding off the science images
themselves on Agile.

 We then turned to a discussion of the potential new instruments: an
upgrade for the echelle, a replacement or refurbishing of SPICAM, and
a high-resolution near-IR spectrograph (FIRST) to be used for Doppler
planet searches around cool stars.  We started with input from each

Princeton (Strauss): A postdoc, Cullen Blake, is quite interested in
the echelle upgrade, and has already contacted Burgh with specific
questions about the detector.  He has also contacted Jian Ge to get
more details about FIRST.

JHU (Fulbright): There is enthusiasm about getting greater blue
response in the echelle, and less fringing in the red.  There is some
concern about separation of the orders in the echelle.
 Could FIRST be used to follow up interesting APOGEE targets?

Colorado (Bally): Colorado folks are interested in using the upgraded
echelle for studies of OVV quasars.  In the contact of FIRST, they are
building a laser-cooled calibration system with a frequency comb; they
are in contact with Ge.

Chicago (Harper): Don York has a series of concerns about management
risks for the echelle (are all the individuals needed to carry out
this program lined up?  Are those who built the instrument in the
first place properly in the loop?), as well as the amount of downtime
for the instrument.  Al suggested a telecon between the individuals
most interested in this instrument, to talk about all aspects of it.

 NMSU (Holtzman): There is interest in the echelle and imager.

 Washington (Anderson): Low-level interest in all three instruments.

 Virginia wasn't represented at this meeting.

 Suzanne Hawley then led a broader discussion of the instruments,
from the point of view of the observatory.  Of the three, the echelle
program is the most focussed and manageable.  We're eager to move
forward.  It may possibly be fundable fully from CIF funds.  We need
to identify a PI.  Given the timescales to put together a real
budget/plan/PDR, it is unlikely therefore that the work could happen
during the 2010 Summer shutdown, especially given that we don't have
all that much money available for this.

 For the imager, the scientific motivation for going from a 5' to 10'
field isn't very strong.  What we need is a more reliable,
maintainable instrument than SPICAM, that allows us to continue using
our very good selection of filters.
     People are definitely interested in the idea of getting
simultaneous multi-band imaging, using dichroics to image onto
multiple CCDs.  But such an instrument would be more expensive than
CIF funds alone could cover.

 For the FIRST instrument, Jian Ge has a silicon immersion grating,
 and a 2K Hawaii chip in hand.  The design for the instrument is
 still in the "qualitative" stage. Osterman and Bally of Colorado are
 putting together a list of desiderata of what would be needed for
 this instrument to go to PDR.

 One of the action items was to document triple-spec reductions for
measuring spatial information. Adam Ginsberg (Colorado) has written
some relevant scripts/code here; he and the UVa folks should talk to
each other.

 The next meeting of this group will be at 11:30 AM Eastern, Monday,
 January 11.

     3.5-m Telescope, Instruments, and CIF Projects Highlights, 11/4/09
through 12/3/09

                         Mark Klaene

0) Overview

We are making plans to install 5 more beds in the dormitories to
handle additional people sharing rooms as NSO/SP housing starts drying
up.  On 11/30 we received the largest snowfall I have seen, with
accumulation around 24" of snow. Power was lost due to the weather and
2 generator problems.  We also lost the phone due to a control chassis
failure. Network was down for around 24 hours and we had 2 underground
water leaks develop. Needless to say it was a hectic week.

1) Telescope

Telescope has been running well. We are continuing to characterize and
adjust controller logic as time and weather permits.

2) Instruments

DIS, Echelle, SPIcam, Agile and TripleSpec ran with only occasional
minor problems.

3) CIF projects

With 2010 funding approved these projects will start going ahead in

4) Personnel

Nick MacDonald has moved to Seattle and will be working at the
UW splitting time between the 3.5m and SDSS-III on mechanical design
projects.  Bill  Ketzeback is now on full time day staff as the
3.5m Telescope Engineer.

APO APO APO APO APO  Apache Point Observatory 3.5m  APO APO APO
APO  This is message 1162 in the apo35-general archive. You can find
APO  the archive on
APO  To join/leave the list, send mail to
APO  To post a message, mail it to