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
  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

System requirements

The standard version of TAO runs under Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000/XP, and the program itself will only occupy a few megabytes of disk space. The scheduler is a computationally intensive program, so a fast CPU and large memory are desirable. As an example, it runs quite well on a computer with a 1 GHz AMD Duron processor and 128 MB of memory, which is already a slow machine by today's standards.

In order to carry out observations which have been scheduled with the standard version of TAO your observatory needs to be controllable by one of the following two sets of programs:

  • ACP/PinPoint/MaxIm DL CCD. In this case you will run the MU image acquisition script (which is part of TAO) under ACP, and the scheduler output will consist of a target list containing all the information about the telescope actions to be carried out during the observing run. This target list will be read and executed by the MU script at the scheduled time. ACP will distribute commands to the telescope (which may be controlled by another program such as TheSky) and the CCD camera (which is controlled by MaxIm DL CCD). PinPoint is required for certain image manipulations, including the automated astrometric reduction of images intended for correction of the telescope pointing (which is not necessary on telescopes which point well). In order to use the automatic focusing capability included in MU, you will need to use the program FocusMax in conjunction with a focuser which can be controlled by FocusMax. The focuser needs to be of the absolute kind, that is, it must be possible to move it to any chosen position specified on a numeric scale. If you wish to save images in zipped format (which saves bandwidth when remote telescope users download their images), you will need to install pkZip, including its command-line version. Version requirements: ACP V3, PinPoint 3 or later, MaxIm DL CCD 3.09 or later, FocusMax 2.2.0 or later.

  • TheSky/CCDSoft/Orchestrate. In this case the scheduler output will consist of a collection of text files, each containing a short Orchestrate script which will carry out one observation (essentially slewing the telescope to the target and taking the image with the appropriate camera settings). Orchestrate will distribute commands to TheSky (which controls the telescope) and CCDSoft (which controls the CCD camera). Version requirements: TheSky v. 5 or later, CCDSoft v. 4 or later, Orchestrate v. 1 or later.
Custom versions. Even if your automated observatory is not controlled by one of the above sets of programs, it may still be possible to write a custom version of the TAO image acquisition script which would communicate with your existing observatory control software. Custom versions of the TAO scheduler could also be written, incorporating features of special interest to particular users. Please contact the author if you would like to discuss the possibility of writing a custom version of TAO to suit your special needs.

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© 1999-2004 Paulo Holvorcem