Observer2 setup and Data Quality Operations

Contact: Jim Annis <>


Setting up

Set up the console for data monitoring by running the start_obs2 command:

[DECamObserver@observer2 ~]$ start_obs2

Don't move the mouse until all of the windows are opened.

The image above shows the layout that produces. Clockwise from upper left:

Top & bottom left monitors: look at the images


This is the ds9 window that invoking "bigload" in kenttools gives. I tend to just watch the default ccd, but big load lets you see all of the camera. To make that really useful, we'd need 9 monitors. Perhaps in the DES upgrade. Watch the sky- its one of the best ways to make sure there is nothing wrong with the data.

My way of working the display is with the right click mouse button; the scale menu "scale parameters" sub-window is also useful. YMMV.

Top center monitor: seeing

Dome slit viewer

There is a webcam showing what the telescope is looking at. It shows dome slit orientation in comparison to where the Blanco is pointing. We used to have problems with dome occluding the pupil; this will let
one see that.


The RASICAM display show a sensitive view of clouds. Shown here is the webpage, (
The other display is invoked by "" which gives a movie of the night.

Quick Reduce Display

The left panel shows the QR Observing History page. We pay close attention to that, monitoring the seeing and ellipticity reported by QR. The other tab in this browser shows QR monitor page, which is good to see if QR is running. Login and Instructions are available at

Top right monitor: watch what obstac is up to

Navigation Plots

The plot of the DES footprint with what we've done tonight is produced by the pointing command. This plot is automatically refreshed every ~30s.
You can call this command manually from kentools. Use pointing --help to view the various plotting options.

Obstac murmuring

The wide window is doing a

tail -f /usr/remote/user/sispi/decam/instances/DECam_201*/logs/OBSTACSRVR-current.log | grep INFO

a "murmuring", that allow you to watch ObsTac's thought process.

The browser: Tololo Site Environmental Page

The Tololo environmental page, one of the best to watch. Monitor seeing, windspeed, humidity, LST, and sun altitude here. Check conditions for closing louvers or raising windscreen.

On the other tabs there are the DES operations wiki page and the daily playbook page.

Bottom right monitor: nightly reporting

The browser of all reports

The end-of-night checklist Checklist

  • Electronic notebook

Shown is
the electronic notebook, which is used throughout the night. Learn to become one with it. Also make sure you understand the right buttons to press to turn the
night summary text pasted into the elog into usefully formatted night summary. Keep everything, especially the mundane in the slog, keep the night summary a summary.

  • CTIO Night Report

The first tab is an edit version of the CTIO night report. You have to fill it out, and it's much easier to get it going in the afternoon and keep it up to date during the night. Trust me.

Part of doing that is filling out the proposal information, which one can find in the next tab, (tab 2) which is the CTIO telescope schedules. Click in.

One can find the history of these via:

  • Nightsum

Tabs 3 & 4 are for night summary work. The first shows the directory in which all the night sums live. The one you are working on will show up after you do the "makesum" command. The 5th tab shows an example night summary page. Edit the url to look at the one you are working on.

The top xterm

The top xterm has already ssh-ed to sispi@observer2. You have to do a

cd ~sispi/nightsum-reports
setup nightsun

before doing the night sum commands makesum and pubsum.

You'll want to give the password soon after running start_obs2 as there
is a timeout on the ssh.

The bottom xterm

This one will have cat-ed an example night-sum-draft file. Copy this somewhere (better, use the one in the dir ~/Templates)
and start editing it. Shown is my vi session of editing the night sum during the night. You want to do this.

Bottom center monitor: working the images

The right hand top xterm

This is the kentools window. Kentools are fabulously useful. See Introduction to kentools.

Invoke "commands" to see what it can do. I spend all night doing inv, load, seeingall on almost every image. It's your job to find that image which makes it onto the Bragging rights (ie seeing records etc) page.
Lately I've taken to doing bigload and inv as the seeing is reported by the qcInv command.

Antonella Palmese 03/12/2015: I created a short script in to automatically load/bigload the latest exposure. Simply do ./ in ~/palmese/. Please feel free to edit it to make it better.

First thing you do on getting back to the telescope after dinner is to run flatCheck. The resulting plot is hidden in the fig above, closing it is difficult...

One can also do screen grabs. There's a button on the top of the top left monitor, or one can just run xv. Good galaxies can be put into the electronic log book. One could grab the Tololo Environmental page a the end of the night and put it into notebook. One could grab the flatCheck output and put it into the log as well. To printscreen a single window use ALT+PrtScn.

The right hand bottom xterm

This is the godb window. Type qcInv in it periodically to keep an eye on the teff.

The NED result

Running a ned command in kentools and clicking on a beautiful galaxy brings up a browser with what NED knows about the object. There are other such commands in kentools.

(Beneath the browser you can see an xterm- this is a general purpose xterm.)

Bottom left monitor: looking at the images

Don't forget to look at the data.