Observing system

Various improvement were made to different aspects of the observing system. Zero point calculated online for data from the wide-field SuperWASP cameras are now provided on our weather page. The zeropoints are only from a first look reduction, but in general they give a very good impression of the transparency and stability of the atmosphere. The camera only observes specific areas on the sky, but the data do indicate if there likely are clouds, and how thick they are. As the zeropoints are not final reduction results we only presented on our weather page within the observatory network, and they can not been seen from elsewhere.

The feedback from observers on the functionality of our sequencer-based observing system has been very positive. Still, over the last few months, a substantial effort has gone into further improving the usability of the observing system and of the the toolkits we offer to our observers. Various of the recent improvements are described below. Upcoming improvements include a new observing block generator, which will take full advantage of the possibility to control all subsystems (TCS, Detector, Instrument) through the sequencer and thus allow for very advanced scripting. The fast-track service observing system will particularly benefit from this upgrade but this will benefit all modes of observing.

A special script was developed for the staff that provides a (wakeup) alarm when the weather improves. This is specifically intended for those cases where the weather is bad in the middle of the night but it is not clear if it might improve or not. The script checks all the weather parameters, and only when all are within the accepted limits will it warn the user so there is no need to constantly check this. After defining the requirements for the proper use of this script the plan is to provide this feature to the visiting astronomers.

A general review for consistency was made of the orientation in which data was displayed by the different post-processing system for different instrument.

Thomas Augusteijn 2010-05-27