Subject: Minutes from December 8 APO 3.5m User's Committee Meeting

From: strauss@astro.Princeton.EDU

Submitted: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 09:43:16 -0500 (EST)

Message number: 221 (previous: 220, next: 222 up: Index)

	Apache Point Observatory 3.5m User's Committee Meeting
****************December 8, 1997**********************

Attending: Chris Stubbs, Michael Strauss, Bruce Gillespie, Rene
Walterbos, Alan Uomoto, Ed Turner

Absent: Ed Kibblewhite, Jeff Secker

Outcome of BoG meeting
Director's Discretionary Time policies
Status of new secondary project
Priorities and projects for 2nd year of three year plan
Echelle status

*****Outcome of Board meeting:
  Gillespie, Turner, Walterbos were there.  Very positive outcome.
Basically, proposed spending proposal and operations budget were
  The proposal for Director's Discretionary time was approved.
Averaged over a year or two, DD time cannot be larger than 20% minus
the fraction of engineering time (but excluding long shutdowns for
routine maintenance, e.g., re-aluminization) and cannot in any case
exceed 8% of total telescope time.  This is will go into effect in
second quarter of 1998.  Turner will use the time devoted to
engineering in the previous quarter to decide on amount of time for
director's discretion for each quarter.

The User's Committee members have copies of the viewgraphs and
presentations made to the board; contact them if you are interested in
seeing them. 

There are plans to set up a series of meetings to discuss long-term
topics, such as instrumentation plans.  The Board is looking into
possibilities of long-term funding for upgrades: instruments,

Board believes that the User's Committee is a successful mechanism for
communication with the user community.  But we should all work harder
to improve communication with our colleagues; it is not clear whether
the User's Committee is the perfect conduit for communication between
the mountain and the users of the telescope. 

*******Director's Discretionary time: 
  We should all start thinking about the types of things we might do
with this time.  Stubbs has put together some thoughts on a structure
in which we might work.
  Ed Turner is open to creative suggestions on what sort of programs
might be carried out during DD time.
  Queue scheduling on short time scales: say, put aside a week on
which a select number (say, half-dozen) people are on-call, to be
ready to observe "at a moment's notice" if conditions are good.
  UW is already doing this at a low level: one group gets 45 minutes
every other night for SN spectroscopy and photometry.  If there are no
SN up on a given night, the time reverts to previously scheduled UW
time.  But this won't work in the long term, as UW time is not always
scheduled in this way.  To make it work in the long term would require
such a program to be observatory-wide

  Stubbs: Although given our instrumental flexibility and remote
observing, we are superbly positioned for such "unschedulable"
projects as SN and gamma-ray burst follow-up, we do not have the
political mechanisms in place to do so.  Such questions as: who takes
the data?  Who "owns" the data?  Are people willing to be bumped off
the telescope for such programs?  These need to be answered.  Stubbs
has written a document describing a possible approach to such
programs; we will discuss it in detail at the next meeting. 

********Status of the New Secondary:
  Steward Observatory Mirror Lab is figuring 2ndary.  We need to provide a holding cell
to support it during polishing.  SDSS 2ndary was done this way and it
worked out well.  So they are sending us the holding cell used for
that mirror; we'll rebuild it for our 2ndary (which is a bit smaller).
  Swales Aerospace will do the relevant engineering and a lot of the
hardware work.  It will go to Steward
mid-February, about 1.5 months late.  Steward apparently is happy with
this slippage, but the contract may need to be rewritten to reflect
new delays.
  We need to think through how this effects the 3-year plan budget.
The group of people who is active in the 3-year plan will soon meet to
discuss this.

**********Priorities and projects for 2nd year of three year plan
Among the projects which face us (not a complete list): 
Automatic tertiary rotation.
Routine archiving of engineering data on telescope from various
DIS improvements
r0 telescope
closed-loop guiding
remote control of the mirror cover

There is a general sense that those projects which improve performance
of the telescope (e.g., DIS improvements, baffling, etc) take higher
priority than do those that improve its efficiency.  However, the
telescope is performing well enough these days that there is now
increasing push from the users for increased efficiency.

  When Echelle arrives, it will live at its own Nasmyth port.  Thus
the tertiary needs to rotate.  Keeping everything in alignment on this
rotation is not doable at the moment.
  Getting this rotator working and automated is a very non-trivial
problem; Stubbs estimates 6 months to a year of work.  Might we borrow
from the WIYN telescope experience?

  Alan Uomoto is thinking through the DIS chip upgrade.  Getting some
Advanced Camera chips is a real possibility; more difficult is getting
people together to get dewars, electronics in place.  He and Chris
Stubbs are discussing this.  

*********Echelle status
  There is a report from Roger Hildebrand on progress with the echelle
in Chicago.  We discussed possible impacts on the site of the
commissioning of this major new instrument.  Gillespie and Turner are
making efforts to make detailed plans with the Chicago folks for the
arrival of this instrument. 


User Feedback
  Gillespie: We should think about having a Web-based form for
observers to fill out at the end of the night, like Kitt Peak.  People
are very happy to see the impressions of the observers now appear on
the nightly report, but the Observing Specialists are not too happy
about having to bug observers for these, and the observers are not too
happy about being bugged. 

   Network connections to APO have been degraded due to problems at
NMSU.  Now trying to tune things up; the mountain staff would
appreciate feedback on your experiences with the network connection.

Stubbs: There are still some glitches in the guider, where we don't
understand what it is doing.  This needs to be worked out.  There is
some upcoming engineering time to fix this. 

  Previous month's minutes are approved. 

  Next meeting, January 5, 1997, 12:30 PM

APO APO APO APO APO  Apache Point Observatory 3.5m  APO APO APO
APO  This is message 221 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