Observer1 Daily Checklist

Afternoon Checklist (Dome Closed)

The check list is in a pre-defined form (Late Afternoon Checklist) in the eLog. Most of it should have been done by the run manager before you (observer 1) get to the dome. So ask her/him if there is anything left to do.

In addition, check to see that the GPS Monitor is working

If an Early ToO was discussed at the 4pm meeting, read these notes

Start of Observing Checklist (Dome Open)

After Calibration

  • About an hour before sunset
    • Is the dome open yet? If not gently ask Telops when it will be (if it is raining then there is no need to ask them that....)
  • Check that the afternoon calibrations completed
    • Talk to observer2 to make sure they look OK
  • Check interlocks on SISPI at system1:7001/apps/interlock_viewer/

After Sunset

  • Read plan-for-the-night. (Linked in first column on shift calendar: 2018 = DESShiftsYr7)
  • Make sure the RM has preselected standard Stars for the appropriate UT: these will be listed in the plan-for-the-night
    • Don't assume the RM has preselected the standards correctly (e.g. used the correct UT for twilight). Link to instructions to convinced yourself you'd have chosen the same ones.
    • Likewise, check that the almanac info in the plan-for-the-night is as it appears when you run ephem with kentools
      • Open kentools by typing "observer" while logged in as DECamObserver
  • After sunset but before -10 degree twilight, preload initial exposure scripts by following these instructions. The first time you do this, you should have an experienced person with you looking over your shoulder.
    • Make sure blocker filter is in. See figure below.
    • Vsub remains OFF for now.
    • Load in the start script, which flushes Vsub and carries out the pointing calibration: /usr/remote/user/DECamObserver/ExposureScripts/User_scripts/start.json
    • Now you will preload the standard star scripts:
      • Click Load Exposure Script, then Select DECam Script
      • Submit the high airmass standard star script first (this is most time critical).
        • Usually, for evening standards, you will use the Yzirg scripts under DES/standard/Yzirg (see Standard Star Instructions). But sometimes you might be asked to add the u band or used a different standard star script. This will be discussed at the 4pm meeting.
        • Note that if you select the reverse set ( grizY) accidentally, it isn't a big deal (D. Tucker)
        • also, the special CalSpec standards being observed during Year4 only have grizY scripts; so, if you have one of these special CalSpec standards during evening twilight, just use the grizY script (only applied in Y4)
      • If three standards were selected (happens usually):
        • Submit the next Standard Star scripts. The default order is by decreasing airmass. But....
          • Expert observers can adjust the order to optimise the slew time (i.e. order by delta-RA). [This would also be true for morning standards.]
      • If only two standards were selected (happens rarely):
        • Submit the next highest airmass Standard Star script
      • Click Add Break to add a break at the end of all Standard Stars (11/13/14 HTD)
      • (About once every 7 nights, and on instruction from 4pm meeting: Add DES/defocus_nightly.json before the last break to append it to the last evening standard)
      • UPDATE: Nightly de-focussing is to be run on alternate Tuesdays in consultation with 4pm ops meeting.
  • WAIT until the sun is at -10 degree twilight (actually you can turn vsub on and do the flushes before -10, since the shutter doesn't open, but telops doesn't seem keen on this, so WAIT)
  • When the sun at -10 degree twilight
    • Confirm with the Telescope Operator that is OK to Turn Vsub ON (System Control Tab).
    • Turn Vsub ON (System Control Tab).
    • Hit Go to execute start script loaded earlier.
      • Just checking: have you turned VSub ON?
    • Click Go to execute the Pointing Object Exposure that was preloaded (doesn't happen automatically after flushes because you have added a Break)
  • Wait for Observer2 to analyze the pointing results using kentools "center". Observer2 will communicate the offset to telops.
    • If the total offset is greater than 10", proceed with the next pointing script you've lined up. Observer2 will communicate the offset to telops.
    • If it is less than 10", you can delete the extra pointing exposure you preloaded (you'll need to click unlock).
      • Note: there is a different spec for pointing accuracy once observing has started. See Observer2 instructions.
  • Hit Go to execute the preloaded standard star scripts.
  • If you are starting science observations with OBSTAC
    • After the first image of last standard star script has been taken, click Enable Auto to start OBSTAC thinking.
      • there shouldn't be any breaks if you followed the instructions, but just in case there are remove all "breaks" from the queue (Obstac will not begin adding exposures to the queue if there are breaks in it).
    • you can Enable Auto even before -14 Twilight (but still after -10!): OBSTAC is clever enough not to add things to the queue if the sky is still too bright.
  • If you are NOT starting science observations with OBSTAC
    • WAIT until it is just before -14 deg twilight
    • Preload the script you need to use (this will have been explained at 4pm meeting, and described in plan-for-the-night)
  • After science observations have started check aTmCam, i.e. that the dome for aTmCam is open and the cameras are powered on. Link to instructions
  • And.... breathe....
    • That's the most stressful bit of the night over. Time for a coffee or maybe a happy dance?

During the night

  • 15 minutes after midnight local time (not UTC) go to and scroll to the bottom to check that the previous day's file is there. If it is NOT there, send email to "David Walker" <> and Rick Kesseler () IMMEDIATELY! If the weather file does not appear within a few hours we will lose the GPS processing at Suominet for this night. Waiting until morning is too late! Suggestion: add this task as an alarm to your iCal.
  • While ObsTac, or long duration .json scripts, is/are running, do these periodically:
    • Check Telemetry: Explanation of SISPI Telemetry GUI Plots
    • Check DTS (data transfer system) is operating using this page
      • Mike Fitzpatrick notes that the "Pend" column is the number of pending transfers out of that node and is usually near 1, but can be much higher during fast cadence programs or calibration sequences. If you suspect something is really "stuck" and nothing is moving, an email to &
    • Check Images on Comfort Display
    • Talk to Observer2 about Image Health, Teff, seeing etc.

End of Night Checklist

These are the end of night instructions for both observers. The pre-formatted checklist in the eLog has been superseded by the nightsum tool.

Observer 1:
  • Stopping OBSTAC: stop at -14deg (do this by disabling auto)
    Suggestion: add stopping OBSTAC before -14deg as an alarm to your iCal.
  • Calibration:
    • Take Standard Star sequences (See Start of Observing Checklist for details on choosing these scripts) [Script Name]:
      • For morning standards (and end-of-half-night standards), the current official procedure is to use the grizY scripts under DES/standard/grizY (see Standard Star Instructions)
        • although if you accidentally use the Yzirg scripts, it is not a big deal... (--D. Tucker)
      • Something to be aware of: it can take a long time to slew between the standards, so the timing on SISPI is an underestimate. As a result you might end up observing at <-10 deg sun elevation. If that happens STOP the standards. Actively communicate with telops.
      • if it is cloudy, then it might not be worth taking standards (but if in doubt, take 'em)
    • Submit End-of-Night Calibration Script: /usr/remote/user/DECamObserver/ExposureScripts/postnight_calibration.json
  • Cleanup the observer1 desktop:
    • Close any extra terminal window you have opened during the night
    • Close any extra browser windows you have opened during the night. Be careful not to close any SISPI GUIs
    • Go to the System Control section of the observer console GUI and clear the setup information
      • Click on Edit
      • Click on Clear
      • Click on Save
  • Bring the instrument into a safe state
    • Turn Vsub off (if it is not off already)
    • Move the block filter into the beam (if it is not already)
  • If waiting for Obs2 to finish pubsum, it would be very kind, to our fellow Blanco users, if you could collect dirty cups and do the washing up.

How to tell if blocking filter is in