Subject: Minutes, APO User's Committee meeting, 6/28/99

From: strauss@astro.Princeton.EDU

Submitted: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 10:00:07 -0400 (EDT)

Message number: 357 (previous: 356, next: 358 up: Index)

  Apache Point Observatory 3.5m User's Committee Meeting
		June 28, 1999

Attending: Ed Turner, Scott Austin, Rene Walterbos, Bruce Gillespie,
Michael Strauss

**********************Miscellaneous Announcements******************

Observers who have requests of special filters, gratings, daytime
calibrations, etc. for their observations *must* let the technical
staff ( know at least 24 hours in
advance. People have been cutting things too close recently.  Some
grating, slit, and filter changes can take an hour or two.  If
configuration change requests come in at the last minute, the site
staff cannot guarantee that science observing will start on schedule.

Please send copies of any news articles about the 3.5m, the SDSS, or
any science based on either of these to Gretchen
(, who is keeping a file of these things. 

SPICAM is down; currently the electronics is in Seattle for repair.
They have not yet been able to reproduce the fault seen on the
UPDATE:  Today, some problems with the electronics were noticed in Seattle.
Peter Doherty is replacing and/or upgrading much of the electronics, and
expects to have Spicam back in service by about 7 July.

There is time scheduled in early July for commissioning of the
Shack-Hartman optical testing device, with the intention of getting a
baseline of our optical performance, before the summer shutdown, and
the installation of the new secondary.

  The new secondary has arrived on the mountain, and has been formally

  We have not yet successfully found a replacement for Camron
Hastings.  We do have a fairly rich pool of applicants, and are
looking for someone who will stay with us for several years.  We will
be interviewing further people in the next week or so.  The job
description is posted on the AAS job register and on the APO Web

WSMR has terminated its agreement with us (as of the end of June).  So
we have lost the income that generated.  But there is interest from
the military in a possible new arrangement to use the 3.5m. 

***********************Twilight Time******************************
Since the beginning of operations on the 3.5m, there has been a policy
that twilight time is "owned" by the observatory for engineering and
preparatory work.  In actual fact, most people have worked under the
assumption that twilight is owned by the
adjacent program (thus the evening twilight is owned by the first
program of the night).  Operationally, this is how twilight is being
used on the vast majority of nights.  Perhaps we should explicitly
start accounting for it, or at least we should be explicit that this
is the policy. Might monitoring programs, scheduled right at the
beginning or the end of the night, work into twilight, especially when
there is some moon (when the practical difference between 18 degree
and 12 degree twilight is minimal)? Comments and opinions on this
should be forwarded to Ed Turner and Bruce Gillespie. 

***********************The Next 3-year Plan*************************
The three years of the original three-year plan are coming to an end
soon, with great progress made on essentially all the items we wished to
address.  It is now time to start listing what major capital
improvements we'd like to propose to the Board for the year 2000
budget, and giving them priorities. 

  Among the items mentioned: 
    The new Kibblewhite top end, which will allow tip-tilt, etc.
    New rotators and guiders for the various ports, to take advantage
      of the rotation of the tertiary for faster instrument changes. 
    Operating software upgrade. 
    An aluminizing facility for the site.  At one point, it was
      suggested that we build a traveling facility, but this is
      probably not feasible.  It may cost as much as $1 million, to be
      shared between the 3.5m and SDSS, and used by other
      observatories in the area. 
    Building new storage buildings on the site. 
    The site needs other infrastructure work, like a new phone system. 
    Various instrument projects. 

Among the various instrument projects under consideration or
development, and visitor instruments that may become user instruments
in the future, are the following:
1.  Acousto-Optic Tunable Filter (narrow-band infrared imager), a
      visitor instrument that has been used a number of times.  It
      should be relatively straightforward to make it a broad-band
      imager, to replace GRIM. 
2.  DIS chip upgrades, led by Stubbs' team at UW. 
3.  Stubbs; Large-format imaging CCD camera. 
4.  Sean Casey's InSb infrared imager. A potential GRIM replacement.
5.  Woodgate's Fabry-Perot, and Lyot filter; potential user
6.  There are some further things that need to be done on the echelle. 
7.  Chicago/JHU instrument, as yet unspecified. 
8.  Kibblewhite's Chaos instrument (adaptive optics). 
9.  Optical Fourier-Transform spectrometer from Livermore. 

The highest priorities are the DIS upgrade, and something to replace
GRIM.  We need more details, and a sense of how much each of this will
cost the observatory.

It would be good to discuss these issues at an APO community meeting.
We suggested doing this at Sunspot, in late September or early

  Next meeting:  12 noon, Monday, July 19.

  Previous month's minutes are approved. 

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