Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes, December 2014

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Tue, 23 Dec 2014 21:49:50 -0800 (PST)

Message number: 1351 (previous: 1350, next: 1352 up: Index)

NOTE: There is some OPEN time available on the 3.5m in early January 
during the AAS meeting.  Please contact Suzanne and Russet if you are 
interested in using this time.

 		APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 12/15/14

Attending:  Suzanne Hawley, Mark Klaene, Bill Ketzeback, Joe Huehnerhoff, 
Scott Anderson, Rachel Kuzio de Naray, Joanne Hughes Clark, John 
Wisniewski, Mark Hammergren, John Bally, Russet McMillan, Mary Beth 
Kaiser, Don York, John Wilson, Nick MacDonald


User feedback and comments from institutional representatives:

o Washington - Scott had nothing to report.

o Seattle - Joanne had nothing to report.

o JHU - Mary Beth had nothing to report.

o Oklahoma - Dome issues with ARCSAT, discussion postponed to later in the 

o Adler - Mark said the waether has not been cooperating for Adler lately.

o Colorado - John said that he had a nice night of 0.5 arc-sec seeing with 
NICFPS this past week. This led to a discussion of whether seeing has 
shown a marked improvement recently. Questions about ventillation, types 
of weather and dome seeing were raised. Mark remarked that we have a long 
term study of dome seeing and potential improvements in the enclosure.

o Chicago - Don also mentioned having excellent seeing the past few nights.

o Virginia - John had nothing to report.


Discussion of telescope/instruments report:

             3.5-m Telescope and Instruments Highlights
                       11/15/14 through 12/10/14

0) Overview

Weather has been OK much of the period overall with some periods of very 
good weather, Site hosted a large SDSS IV meeting this period. Beth 
Mitchell's training to replace Gretchen by the end of the year is 
progressing well.

- Suzanne mentioned that most of the users main interaction has to do with
   travel to the site. Mark asked users to give as much notice as possible
   for the upcoming months.

1) Telescope

Telescope has been behaving well with the new TCC software.

2) Instruments

DIS has been operating normally. Collimation and internal focus does vary 
somewhat with transition from summer to winter temperatures. Russet is 
watching this closely and making adjustments when practical.

- Russet said there was a big focus change for recent deep cold snap.
   Message for users is to keep an eye on spectral focus as they are taking
   data. Contamination is increasing slowly and seems to be related to
   ambient humidity rahter than ambient temperature.

- Don asked why. Mark explained the vacuum seal issue at the front of the
   dewar. Investigating possible corrections including improvement to dry
   air purge and potentially replacing vacuum seal.

Agile is operational with no problems

TripleSpec has an occasional instance of corrupted images.  UVa is aware 
of the issue however problem is intermittent and difficult to troubleshoot 

- Bill said this was only discovered during checkout and has yet to affect
   science. John Wilson will ask if this has occurred on other copies of

SPICam was operational during this period with no problems

Echelle inter-order light is holding with no additional issues.

NIC-FPS continues to operate in shared-risk observing mode due to 
occasional image corruption issue.  NFS less than 9 is operational.

GIFS is operational


The instrument development is proceeding on schedule.  The dewar has a 
loaner CCD from STA and has been integrated with the readout electronics 
by Bob Leach. It is at UW for further testing and development.  ICC 
development is in work. The optics purchase order is in process of being 
placed.  A report on the custom shutter has been finished.  Plan to start 
fabricating the remainder of the instrument after the first of the year.

- There was some discussion about the ICC and shutter development. User
   input regarding having separate config window in TUI would be useful.
   Binning can only be 1 - 4, and rectangular binning is possible but not
   sure if it will be implemented. Don asked about narrow band filters and
   how many filters fit in the wheel. Joe responded that there are 6
   positions for filters. Instrument is on budget and on schedule so far
   for commissioning this summer and potentially shared-risk observing in
   the fall.


o farewell to Michael Strauss and Princeton

   We have really appreciated Michael's input on this committee. It has 
been valuable and insightful. We also appreciate the service Michael and 
the rest of the Princetom community has provided ARC and APO over the 

   Note that Chicago is officially finished as an ARC partner at the end of 
December 2014, but they are still owed a good deal of time over the next 
year, so Don York will remain with us on the committee.

o reminder about 35general mailing list migration

   We will turn on the new listserver on or near January 1. The new list 
will purge many of the old email addresses including Princeton and others 
no longer affilliated with ARC or the 3.5-m.  Once the mailing list is 
active we will work with Michael Strauss to get the archive of the old 
list on APO computers. The list will still be called apo35-general but 
will be at instead of at

o 3.5m wiki now includes ARCSAT

   Jon Holtzman sent out a message last week reminding users of his new 
Wikipage.The idea of this page is primarily to supplement site 
documentation especially for data reductions for 3.5-m and Arcsat users. 
It also can be a place where users can contribute discussions or questions 
about use of the telescopes or instruments as well as picking up tips from 
other users. A few people have already contributed, especially about 
echelle data reduction.  ARCSAT users are especially encouraged to start 
using the wiki to share their experiences.

o ARCSAT in Q1 2015

   Arcsat is currently scheduled as shared risk observing through 1st week 
of Feb. Sometime in Janauary there will be the next call for proposals. 
Lots of good data are being taken.  There are still some rocky transitions 
around the time of instrument changes. A policy change has been 
implemented which we hope will help: the first half night following a 
change in cameras will now be considered engineering time to smooth this 
transition. Don York expressed his concern that the attention the 3.5-m 
Obs-specs are giving the ARCSAT users has taken away attention from 3.5-m. 
Suzanne said that the plan is that the engineering on the 0.5-m would be 
done by someone who was not scheduled as a 3.5-m Obs Spec on the same 

   The shared risk phase on ARCSAT is basically complete and we are ready 
to switch to normal operations for the next proposal cycle.  We will work 
out how to colect payment for time ($500/week) for the telescope once we 
are out of shared risk mode. Don asked for information on the scheduling 
in week blocks. He said he might be interested in telescope time but did 
not need full weeks. Suzanne said that they would do their best to partner 
up smaller programs as long as there were no filter or instrument changes 
to fill up a full week.

o update on APOGEE fiber study

   Jon Holzmann was not on so Nick MacDonald led the discussion. Last 
meeting we had a discussion about the possibility of networking the 4 
telescopes on site together with fiber bundles. We formed a subcommittee 
to review Nick's white paper and form a science case for such a project. 
Nick expressed that we should consider this as an infrustructure 
improvement project for the site, to get the conduit and trenching done. 
Two eight inch conduits are planned. Then add fiber to the APOGEE 
instrument down at the 2.5-m support bldg. The plan would initially be for 
~200 fibers but other fiber runs could be added later. Don mentioned a 
possible science case.  Nick will organize a phone call of interested 
users in January. John Wilson said he will try to recruit some interest in 
this project from other UVa users and some SDSS partners.

o optical spectrograph design study (action item) - Hawley, Klaene

   Polled the committee members for a list of their users who expressed 
interest in making contributing remarks and science cases.

   JHU - Steve McCandless
   (Suzanne mentioned that Steve Smee from the JHU IDG is also interested.)
   GS - Mike Crenshaw, Misty Bentz, Rachel Kuzio de Naray
   UC - Don York
   UW - Scott Anderson
   NMSU - Rene Walterbos (was volunteered by Suzanne)

We will try to organize a phone call about this in the next month.

o Forest service proposal for site infrastructure improvements

   Nick MacDonald will work on this soon.  We want it to be presented to 
forest service early in 2015.  Mark expressed that it could take many 
months to a year to work its way through the bureaucracy.  Don suggested 
having Mike E. pull the orginal cooperative agreement for relevance.

o Actions - group

=====> ACTION:  Users Committee members to poll their constituents to 
engage and enlist people who are willing to be involved with the 
specification and development of a new optical spectrograph.

Was discussed above, but we will leave this open to get more input in 


Next meeting:  The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday 26 
January.  The agenda and other materials will be sent to the committee 
members during the preceding week.

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