Subject: APO 3.5m User's Committee meeting minutes, 6/11/01

From: strauss@astro.Princeton.EDU

Submitted: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 09:08:08 -0400 (EDT)

Message number: 510 (previous: 509, next: 511 up: Index)

  Apache Point Observatory 3.5m User's Committee Meeting
		June 11, 2001

Attending: Bruce Gillespie, Paula Szkody, Ed Turner, Michael Strauss,
Lew Hobbs, Jon Holtzman, Rene Walterbos, Alan Uomoto

Not attending: Chris Stubbs

******Program to observe Gamma-ray bursts in interrupt mode. ***********
As announced on apo35-general #507, a program is now underway whereby
observing time can be taken, without warning, to obtain echelle
spectra of a gamma-ray burst afterglow within minutes of the burst
going off.  This program is led by Karl Glazebrook of Johns Hopkins.
It will use alerts from HETE, selecting the small fraction of which
have excellent positions and are well-placed for APO observing.  The
program has not formally started, as Glazebrook is still refining the
software that will send the HETE alerts onto the APO.  When such an
event goes off, the current observer will have their exposure
interrupted, the tertiary will be rotated to echelle mode, and, if a
bright optical counterpart is seen at the nominal position, an echelle
spectrum will be taken. 

  They expect of order 5-10 events per year.  There is of order 1 GRB
per night found by HETE; however, only a small fraction of these are
found in the HETE high-resolution imager (for which a good position
should be available essentially immediately), and are also in a
position in the sky to be observable by APO.  

  People who have their time interrupted will be suitably compensated.
However, this is not written into a formal policy, as there was no way
to write a coherent policy for covering every possible situation.  Ed
Turner will send out an e-mail detailing this a bit further.

  We have tried one trial run of running the GRB interrupt; the delay
between closing the shutter on one observation, and starting the
echelle observation on the GRB, is a few minutes.

  We will definitely want to discuss the precedent this raises in
general in the future. 

******Hardware Projects (DIS upgrade, baffling, new top end)*********

The DIS upgrade is progressing well.  The UW folks are considering a
September installation during a bright run.

Baffling: There is a computer model of the telescope which at least
qualitatively is in agreement with the observed scattered light of the
telescope, which of course is needed to design an appropriate set of
baffles.  However, we're somewhat behind schedule for getting the
baffling designed and built in time for the summer shutdown.
Moreover, our telescope has a much broader range of angles which give
significant scattering than most telescopes.  A design report (i.e., a
suggestion of how to baffle) will be forthcoming within a few days.
It is also possible that the baffling solution can be put in without a
major shutdown, and/or that we can do a temporary baffling with, e.g.,
temporary solutions such as styrofoam or painted cardboard to see if
it works before making something permanent. 

 Jon Davis has put together a design for the new top-end, that has
been reviewed by the folks at L&F.  

  Work is also ongoing to try to take out 0.1-0.2 arcsec drive-induced
jitter in the telescope drives.  

  There is a possibility of putting Johnson filters in the guider, to do
photometry with the guider.  This would allow routine determinations of the
guider and telescope throughput. 
A complete UBVRI-clear set of filters has been procured for the 
guider, and are expected to be installed during the shutdown.


  Last year, the number of 3.5m publications seemed abnormally low.
Is this a continuing trend?  Were many publications missed in the
count last year?  With these concerns in mind, the User's Committee
members will collect lists of recent (October 2000 to the present)
papers from each of their institutions based on APO 3.5m observations,
and send them to Rene Walterbos (  Please send him
any publications you might have that might have fallen between the
cracks, including those from last year.

  Do remember that papers using APO 3.5m data should put an
acknowledgement, and/or a footnote on the first page of the paper:
  "Based on observations obtained with the Apache Point Observatory
3.5-meter telescope, which is owned and operated by the Astrophysical
Research Consortium."
 Also, if appropriate, put APO, Apache Point, or Apache Point 
3.5-meter telescope in the keywords.

  Ed Turner visited the University of Colorado, to discuss them
joining the consortium; all seems to be going well there, and they
will be allocated time in the third quarter (probably in a coherent
block) to start becoming familiar with the telescope.  They continue
to be enthusiastic about building a near-IR instrument.  They plan to
have the instrument done roughly by Spring 2003.

  We have been searching to hire somebody as an observing specialist
since January; we are happy to report that we have several strong
candidates, who will be visiting the observatory at the end of the

Last month's minutes are approved. 

Next meeting will be held on Monday, July 23, at 11:30 AM EDT

APO APO APO APO APO  Apache Point Observatory 3.5m  APO APO APO
APO  This is message 510 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