Tools for Automated Observing
  Previous page
  Next page
  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
  Updating target
  Generating a list of
  potential targets
  Preparing a list of
  observation requests
  Running the
  Command line
  Schedule output
    Page 1
    Page 2
  Scheduling tips
  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 5: Running the scheduler (continued)

Scheduling tips

As discussed in a previous section, the scheduler may be unable to insert some observation requests in the schedule (this is referred to as a failed insertion in the screen output and in the log file). Such cases may often be avoided or turned into successful insertions with the help of the scheduling tips listed below. Note that the various recommendations may conflict with each other to some extent; some judgment may be necessary to obtain the best results.

  • Re-run the scheduler to obtain better schedules. If you are not satisfied with the schedule you generated, you may try to modify the list of observation requests based on the recommendations given below, and then re-run the scheduler, trying to obtain a more satisfactory schedule. If necessary, this refinement process may be repeated more than once. As you acquire practice using the scheduler, you should be more and more successful at preparing good schedules in a single iteration or in a few iterations.

  • List your higher priority targets near the top of the list of observation requests. This will ensure that these targets get the best observing windows, and will also maximize the probability that they will be inserted in the scheduler.

  • Requests for long series of observations of a given target should appear near the top of the list of observation requests. It is often easier to insert several short series of observations among the exposures belonging to a long, previously inserted series, than it is to insert a long series in a schedule already populated with several short series.

  • Requests for targets near the ends of your observable declination range should appear near the top of the list of observation requests. Such targets usually have very short observation windows, which may easily be taken by previously scheduled targets. This applies to far southern (northern) targets to observed from the northern (southern) hemisphere.

  • Request successive exposures for the fastest moving targets. If you request a sequence of exposures of a fast moving target and specify the keyword mot (which means that the time interval between exposures should be such that the target moves a few pixels between one exposure and the next), the request may fail because the target will move too many pixels in the finite time it takes to download an image and perform a short slew to correct the pointing of the telescope for the target's motion. This problem may often be solved by specifying the keyword suc (successive exposures) instead of mot.

  • Move observation requests which could not be inserted toward the top of the list of observation requests. If an observation request could not be inserted because its observing window has been taken by previously scheduled requests, moving it toward the top of the list of observation requests may increase its probability of being scheduled, possibly at the expense of failing to insert other requests which could previously be scheduled. In these cases, one would have to decide which target is more important to keep in the schedule.

  • Relax observational constraints of observation requests which could not be inserted. Constraints such as minimum altitude, maximum |hour angle|, and moon avoidance radius may be too restrictive, making it impossible to schedule a given request. For example, if at the beginning of the observing run the target is west of the meridian at altitude 30 deg, an observation request specifying a minimum altitude of 35 deg will not be inserted. If you think that images taken at at altitudes of at least 25 deg would still be acceptable, you might relax the minimum altitude constraint to 25 deg, possibly increasing the probability of scheduling the observation request. Another example would be a far southern target to be observed from a station in the northern hemisphere. If the minimum altitude is set too high, the request will not be scheduled because the object never rises above the specified minimum altitude.

  • Sequences of exposures of very slowly moving targets. If you wish to obtain a sequence of exposures of a very slowly moving target with an interval between exposures which is long enough to clearly show the target's motion (it should move at least 2-3 pixels between exposures), the request may not be scheduled because the total time spanned by the observations would have to be longer than the object's observing window in the night in question. For extremely slow targets (such as trans-Neptunian objects near their stationary point), you may consider taking one exposure per night and then blink the exposures from successive nights to detect the object's motion.

  • Targets which rise in the east toward the end of the observing run. Such targets should be listed in (approximate) order of decreasing right ascension (that is, easternmost targets first). The easternmost targets are the ones at lowest elongation, and therefore have the shortest observing windows, so they should be scheduled first to prevent other requests from "stealing" their observing windows.

  • Targets which set in the west near the beginning of the observing run. Such targets should be listed in (approximate) order of increasing right ascension (that is, westernmost targets first). The westernmost targets are the ones at lowest elongation, and therefore have the shortest observing windows, so they should be scheduled first to prevent other requests from "stealing" their observing windows.

  • Fill "holes" in the schedule with targets at appropriate right ascensions and declinations. If after scheduling your most important targets, you find "holes" (periods of idle telescope time), you might select additional targets from the list of potential targets. The chosen targets should be visible during the time periods corresponding to the "holes", and their observations should have at least some chance of fitting in the available "holes". For example, a 10-min "hole" would not be enough to schedule a sequence of three 2-min exposures spaced 10 min apart. Single exposures of fixed targets and sequences of a few short successive exposures of a fast moving asteroid or comet are often suitable to fill up small holes in the schedule.

  • User quotas. If you are a telescope manager and have assigned quotas of telescope time to the various users, you may use the information given in the telescope usage summary at the beginning of the schedule summary file to ensure that no user will exceed his/her quota. If some user exceeds the assigned quota, you may delete some of his/her observation requests to make the amount of telescope or exposure time used fit the quota.

Previous: Schedule output (continued)
Next: Starting the scheduled observations

© 1999-2004 Paulo Holvorcem