Subject: Preparing for observations

From: Russet McMillan

Submitted: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 22:02:20 -0600 (MDT)

Message number: 451 (previous: 450, next: 452 up: Index)


I'd like to remind observers who are scheduled for time adjacent to
twilight that the twilight is usable for most instruments, especially
spectroscopy of bright objects, narrow-band imaging with SPIcam, or
normal observing with GRIM.  Evening twilight in particular can be
used to focus any instrument, even if science observing can't start
until full dark.  The telescope may be slewed within a few minutes
after sunset, and most instruments can be focused 15 minutes to half
an hour after sunset.

No-shows are a risk with our mode of remote observing; although they
don't occur often, we get one or two per quarter, and we have even
more false alarms.  If we don't receive any advance email from
observers or they don't log in before their scheduled start time,
we're often unsure whether to expect a no-show.  This can result in
wasted time searching for contact information or alternative observing

Taking the following steps will help us ensure that observing is as
efficient as possible.

1.  Include phone numbers in the "contact information" portion of your
proposal.  This is the first place we look.  Home phone numbers are
particularly useful, since we might be trying to make contact at night
or on a weekend.

2.  Send email to in advance of the first night
of your run.  Even if you have a simple observing setup, a short note
24 hours in advance will let us know that you know you'll be
observing.  If you have any special requests such as non-standard
slits or filters or any change from the instrumentation listed in your
proposal, we appreciate a warning several days in advance as well as a
short reminder on the day before observing.

3.  Start Remark or phone the observatory an hour or so before your
scheduled time begins on each night of observing.  This will allow you
to find out about the weather (the satellite information may be old or
non-representative) and the telescope status.  In the case of evening
twilight or rapid instrument changes, you might be able to start your
observations earlier than the schedule says.  For some instruments
(not all), you may be able to take cals or biases while the previous
observer is still working.  Ask the observing specialist about these

These steps can make a big difference in efficiency, and let us know
that you take observing with the 3.5m seriously even if you don't have
to fly thousands of miles to do it.

					Russet McMillan

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