Tools for Automated Observing
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  System requirements
Getting Started
  Modeling slew times
  Measuring camera
  download times
  Specifying filter
  names and numbers
  Modeling the local
  Creating user profiles
  Initializing target
  Customizing the
Daily Operation
  Starting observatory
  control software
  Instructions for
  MaximDL users
  Instructions for
  Orchestrate users
  Updating target
  Generating a list of
  potential targets
  Preparing a list of
  observation requests
  Running the
  Starting scheduled
Image Acquisition with
the MU Script
  Customizing the
  Starting MU
  Sequence of events
  during an observing
  run using MU
Timing Refinement
  Collecting timing
  Analyzing timing
  Adjusting the
  empirical timing
Other Tools
  Slew time
  measurement script
  Minor Planet Checker
  query script
  Regression program
  Software updates
  License agreement
  Contact the author
Daily Operation

Step 1: Starting the observatory control software (continued)

Instructions for ACP/PinPoint/Maxim DL CCD users

This section describes the procedure which a user of ACP/PinPoint/Maxim DL CCD would follow to start a night's observing run. If you use TheSky/CCDSoft/Orchestrate, you may skip to the next section.

Before your first observing run using TAO you will need to go through the following steps:

  • Copy directory TAO\ACP_scripts\MU from the computer where you have installed TAO to the observatory control computer (unless you use a single computer to produce observation schedules and to control the observatory). This directory contains the TAO image acquisition script (MU.vbe) and its configuration file (MU.cfg).

  • Customize the MU script by editing the copy of MU.cfg on the observatory control computer and changing the various parameters to suit your needs. This process is explained in detail in another section.

  • You may also need to customize the settings in programs such as ACP and MaximDL CCD so that they recognize your telescope and camera, know the latitude and longitude of your observing station, etc. If you wish to use FocusMax for automatic focusing, you will need to train the software to work with your telescope by running the FocusMax V-curve wizard.
To start the observing run, follow these steps:
  • Start ACP and establish a connection to the telescope (Telescope -> Connect). If another program (such as PC-TCS) is used in conjunction with ACP to control the telescope, you may need to start it before starting ACP. If TheSky is used in conjunction with ACP, it should automatically start and connect to the telescope when you click on Telescope -> Connect in ACP. If your telescope does not remain synchronized with the celestial sphere between successive observing runs, you will also need to re-synchronize it before establishing the connection from ACP to the telescope.

  • Click the Browse button in ACP, and select the script MU.vbe on the observatory control computer.

  • Click on the Main button to start the script.

When the MU script is started, it creates a subdirectory with a name of the form \yymmdd_telescopeName (where yymmdd is the UT date of the observing run and telescopeName is the name of the telescope as specified in MU.cfg) inside the directory specified by parameter obsDir in MU.cfg. For example if you have specified the value of obsDir as the directory C:\TAO\obs, MU will create a subdirectory C:\TAO\obs\yymmdd_telescopeName.


  1. The UT date which serves to identify a night's observing run is defined as the UT date of the sunrise which immediately follows the end of the night at the observing station.
  2. If the telescope name is defined as an empty string in MU.cfg, the above subdirectory will have a name of the form \yymmdd.

The script will also create two files in subdirectory \yymmdd_telescopeName:

An accounting log file will also be created by MU when it starts. This file records every science image taken during the night, along with the ID of the user for whom it was taken, the amount of telescope and exposure time used, and other information. The accounting log file will be located in a subdirectory \Accounting, inside the directory specified by parameter userDir in MU.cfg. For example if you have specified the value of userDir as the directory C:\TAO\users, the accounting log will be stored in C:\TAO\users\Accounting. The accounting log file will have a name of the form Accounting_yyyymmdd_telescopeName.log.

If you have started the script early enough (usually in daytime, early enough that the CCD is able to reach its nighttime working temperature by sunset), you should see the script lower the CCD temperature setpoint some time before sunset, open the dome at sunset (if you use a dome), and then take bias frames, dark frames, and flat fields (by imaging the twilight sky). The MU script also median combines all these calibration frames to produce master frames in two resolutions (full resolution and 2x2 binned) and two frame sizes (full frames and "center frames" covering the central 25% of the detector's area). All calibration files are distributed to the users' individual directories, and become immediately available for download (click here for more details about the sequence of events during an observing run with the MU script). When the sky gets dark enough to start the observations, the MU script starts checking the same subdirectory \yymmdd_telescopeName where it stores the log files for the presence of a target list produced by the TAO scheduler. The preparation of target lists is discussed in the next sections.

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Next: Instructions for TheSky/CCDSoft/Orchestrate users

© 1999-2004 Paulo Holvorcem