Subject: APO 3.5m User's Committee meeting minutes, 7/29/02

From: strauss@astro.Princeton.EDU

Submitted: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 11:55:35 -0400 (EDT)

Message number: 598 (previous: 596, next: 599 up: Index)

  Apache Point Observatory 3.5m User's Committee Meeting
		July 29, 2002

Attending: Bruce Gillespie, Mike Shull, John Morse, Ed Turner, Michael
Strauss, Don York, Alan Uomoto, Rene Walterbos, Mark Klaene

Absent: Chris Stubbs, Bruce Balick, Jon Holtzman

Status of summer shutdown 

Proposal for weekly monitoring of interesting objects

Instrument project reports
 Echelle upgrade

****************************Summer Shutdown********************

Klaene: Shutdown is scheduled from July 15-August 29.  The big items are 
   -Overhaul of drives for shutters
   -Realuminization of primary

  Things are mostly on schedule.  The left-hand side shutter mechanism
failed over the winter, due to a broken seal on the speed reducer.  It
is believed that this is is probably normal wear and tear, although it
did fail somewhat earlier than its nominal lifetime.  In any case,
taking this speed reducer apart has taken longer than expected, but
the repairs on the left-hand side will be done soon.  It is not clear
at this point whether we'll be able to complete the right-hand side
during this summer shutdown, but it is in much better shape in any
case; the motor currents on the right side have always been lower than
on the left side.
  This operation will leave us with a complete set of spare parts,
which is definitely a Good Thing. 

  We're ready to go with transporting the primary for realuminization.
It will leave the mountain next Thursday.  It's great we're getting
the aluminization done during the monsoon season, which is usually the
busiest time at the KPNO aluminization chamber.  

We'll warm and pump on the echelle during shutdown.  We're pumping on
SPICAM already.  We've done some electronic rearrangement in SPICAM
which should help in keeping the device cool. 

**********************Monitoring of unusual objects with APO***********

  Don York has put a proposal into the Chicago TAC for setting aside
one half-night per week for monitoring of astrophysically interesting
variable objects, chosen from a broad range of programs.  The proposal
may be found on the web at:

  Example programs include echelle spectroscopy of bright supernovae
for probing the ISM, asteroid rotation studies, transient X-ray TeV
sources for optical follow-up, parallel observations for HST programs,
and so on.  If other institutions are interested in doing something
similar, then the programs can be coordinated and the time shared.
The current plan is to carry out these observations on Friday evenings
(i.e., first half), so that they can be integrated into public
demonstrations at Adler Planetarium.  This may be a thing that other
museums and planetaria can take advantage of as well.

  York: We would have a bi-weekly phonecon of those involved, to
decide which objects to observe each week.  There would already be a
default program if there was no hot objects to observe at any given

****************Status of instrumentation projects:*****************


  The NIC-FPS design review was held last week.  Bruce Gillespie and
John Barentine from APO, Jeff Morgan from UW, and Pat Hartigan from
Rice were in attendance.  (Rice University "owns" the Fabry-Perot
which will be incorporated into NIC-FPS).  They went through the major
design details of the instrument, knowing that is now time to procure
optics.  Indeed, the optics are now well enough spec'ed and designed
in enough detail that they will be able to ship out for bids very
soon.  Other aspects of the instrument, such as dewar design, were
also discussed, and various action items were listed.

 The detector is now officially on order; we hope to get it roughly
this time next year.  This detector is 1KX1K.  The spec is 20 e- rms
readnoise, while the goal is <10 e-.  Dark current spec is 0.1
e-/pixel/sec, with a goal of 0.01 e-.  The spec on QE is >75% from
0.9-2.4 microns.  The chip has the ability to read out a small postage
stamp quickly, while integrating longer on the rest of the chip.
  This detector is being considered for NGST; its delivery is
currently the pacing item in the schedule for NIC-FPS. 

  The plan is for the instrument to be delivered to the site for
commissioning in first quarter of 2004.  

  The sensitivity of the imager in Fabry-Perot mode will really be
outstanding; this instrument should be unique (and thereby make us
competitive with Gemini for emission and absorption studies) for quite
some time.  

  The instrument is described in detail in;
the viewgraphs from the design review will be posted there in about a

		   JHU/Chicago near-infrared spectrograph:

The arrangement between ARC, JHU, and Chicago is proceeding; a formal
board action to approve this is pending.  

The detectors (of the same type as being used in NIC-FPS) and
controllers have been ordered, and the optical design is almost
done. Steve Smee of SDSS fame is back to lead the JHU instrument
group, and will be of great help.


  An order has gone in for a new acquisition/guider camera for the
echelle; it should allow acquisition of objects as faint as 18th
magnitude, which will be a great improvement over the current camera.
The plan is to install this at the end of August; the camera is to be
shipped from the vendor this week. 

  The new and improved chips are somewhat undersampled with the
current optics; more importantly, vignetting is very strong.  Work to
upgrade the optics to fix these things is on-going.  Some glass has
been ordered, and there is hope to have the improved system integrated
into the instrument by the end of the year.  This will remove the
vignetting, and give better sampling of the chips.

  The last meetings' minutes were approved. 

  The next meeting will be held at 11:30 AM EDT on September 9.

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