Observer2 Daily Checklist

(Author: Douglas Tucker; Created: 1 Oct 2013)

(Login info on white board in control room unless otherwise noted.)

See also Observer2 Setup Guide, Data Quality Operations, Useful_Observer2_Links


  • Read plan for the night. (Linked in first column on shift calendar: 2018 = DESShiftsYr7)
  • Check quality of dome flats (using kentools):
    • Type "inv" to list exposures taken already.
    • Type "bigload <exp>" (where <exp> is the exposure number) for at least one of the dome flats in each filter band. Look for any obvious peculiarities.
    • Once the full dome flat sequence has finished, type "flatCheck".
      • Here is an example of a flatCheck plot . The red symbols should more-or-less lie within the cyan circles like in this plot.
      • Using the UNIX tool xv (or click on the Take Screenshot icon in the panel at top of upper left hand screen or simply use: import ~/Desktop/flatCheck-YYYYMMDD.png in kentools and then grab), grab the plot created by flatCheck, call it flatCheck-YYYYMMDD.png (where YYYYMMDD is today's local date), and upload to the DECam Electronic Logbook ("New Entry" > "Category: DECam Logbook", "Tags: Summary", "Attach Images" -> "Post").
  • Check ephemeris for tonight (using kentools):
    • Type "ephem"
  • Check weather forecast. (browser in top middle screen)
  • Start up a CTIO Night Report . (browser in bottom right screen)
    • You must first log into the website (click on "login") - username astronomer, password can be obtained from telops if it is not on the white board behind observer1. The login session is saved as a cookie in the web browser.
    • This can be edited and saved throughout the night, and then finally submitted in the morning (saving time at the end of the night).
      • reminder: Proposal=2012B-0001, Description=DES, PI=Josh Frieman, Email=, Institution=Fermilab, Organisation=NOAO
    • Before preparing a CTIO Night Report for the first time, see this video tutorial (link doesn't work)
  • Make a file that will contain the DES Night Summary for the night. (xterm in bottom right screen)
    • Use this TEMPLATE to make your file (open the file in gedit using double left click) and save it to the Observer2 Desktop with the filename NightSumDraft-YYYYMMDD.txt.
      • Here is a previous example
      • Tip: some of the info you need at the top will be in the nightly observing plan
      • Note that these files use the Textile markup formatting, which will be used when running the nightsum "makesum" at the end of the night (see below).
    • For further information on how to create a DES Night Summary, how much detail to include, its interactions with the DECam Electronic Logbook, etc, see Introduction_to_the_nightsum.

Beginning of the Night

  • Double check the run manager's list of evening twilight standard star fields to observe.
  • After the position Zeropoints observation has been made, run the kentools command center.
    • Report the measured offsets to the Telescope Operator. Repeat process until offset is within 10". Even if offset is below 10" in the first exposure, take second, longer zeropoint exposure that is queued by default because the longer exposure is needed to turn on guider.
    • Also post the measured offsets to the DECam Electronic Logbook .
      • Post it under "Category: DECam Logbook" and "Tags: Summary" so it gets netted up by the nightsum "makesum" at the end of the night.

During the Night

  • Scan the console clockwise from upper left:
    • weather: check wind speed, humidity
    • rasicam: clouds?
    • blanco prime focus cam: are the lights on? is the pupil clear of the slit edges?
    • quick reduce: what does the time history of seeing look like? The ellipticity? Correlations with wind, for example?
    • pointing: what is obstac pointing at now?
    • logging: anything that should go into the logbook? anything that should go into the draft night summary?
    • kentools: do a inv; load; seeingall. What images has obstac taken lately, what is the seeing on this image
    • godb: do a qcInv. What has the teff been lately?
    • ds9: what does the image look like?
    • what stellar mass is that huge beautiful galaxy? Jim's Stellar Mass Tool
  • Also, occasionally (once every 1-2 hours) check the sky conditions by eye. Go outside, let your eyes dark adapt, and check the sky.
  • You may find load S12 "", load "" FN3, etc. useful for looking at individual sensors from the most recent image.
  • Note that in quick reduce, for FWHM versus time plot, DIMM (Differential Image Motion Monitor) tracks the atmospheric seeing (by tracking the jitter in star positions). The seeing shown in the plot is the quadrature sum of the DIMM and the instrumental seeing. A large difference between the two ( > 0.6-0.8) indicates a problem with the telescope (such as a mirror-cooling problem, dome temperature problem etc.) Example of Bad Seeing due to Telescope Problem
  • Record any problems, including bad exposures, in the DECam Electronic Logbook
    • See Introduction_to_the_nightsum for a description of what to record and which logbook categories to use.
    • When recording the raising or lowering of the Windscreens, please mention "windscreen" explicitly (to help those tracking the effects of the windscreen to search for windscreen entries in the eLog).
  • Work on developing any tools you would consider useful for checking on the data quality.

End of the Night

  • Get feedback on your CTIO Night Report and your draft "DES Night Summary" from Observer1. (Don't submit it yet)
  • Optional: Run in the DECamObserver directory for a seeing summary (mean, median, RMS) for CTIO Night report/Nightsum. see for help. Use quarterly report to fill in CTIO Night report.
  • Submit the DES Night Summary (see also Introduction_to_the_nightsum).
    • Cut-and-paste your draft DES Night Summary into the DECam Electronic Logbook
      • Keep "Form: default"
      • Use "Category: Synopsis_Night"
      • Click on "Textile formatted" button.
    • log into observer2 as user sispi (already done in top xterm, bottom left screen)
    • set up the environment:
      $ setup nightsum
    • run the makesum script:
      $ cd ~sispi/nightsum-reports
      $ makesum
    • Check your results by pointing your browser to
    • In fact, makesum can open the newly generate summary automatically using the -o option:
      $ makesum -o
    • Go to the logbook and make changes as needed. Repeat the makesum step until you are happy with the results.
    • Publish the results so it shows up on the web server on
      $ cd ~sispi/nightsum-reports
      $ pubsum
    • NB The report is published at
    • If you need to edit or republish an old nightsum-report,
      makesum -D yyyy-mm-dd
      pubsum -D yyyy-mm-dd
  • Copy and paste the link of "DES Night Summary" you have just posted into the CTIO Night Report. Post the CTIO Night Report.
    • At the bottom of the CTIO Night Report webform, hit the "Finished editing the night report? Then click to send the Night Report email" button.
    • If you have previously saved an in-progress Night Report and return to it later, you may need to publish it by clicking on the "Publish" tab at the top of the page, instead of the button at the bottom.
    • If you need to change the CTIO Night Report after you have published it, you can find your report in the CTIO Reports Calendar and click on "Edit" from the Observer 2 console.
  • Clean up observer2 console.