User's Guide to the Nickel Remote Operations

Table of Contents


Mt. Hamilton Homepage

Nickel Telescope Remote Operations Checklists

The checklists below are specifically for remote operations of the Nickel Telescope and Direct Imaging camera. If you are observing locally or with a different instrument, you probably should refer to the Nickel Telescope Checklists and the checklists for the specific instrument you are using.

Before Run Checklist

Startup Checklist

  1. If first night of run, wait for email to PI from the 3-m telescope technician (TT) indicating telescope is ready for remote operations. If in doubt as to status, feel free to call the 3-m TT.
  2. Turn on Polycom video conferencing unit and dial the Nickel Polycom (if using the video conference system).
  3. Log onto remote operations room computer.
  4. Start the VNC virtual desktops: <path>/start_lick_viewers (<path> is site specific, so refer to VNC software for your location). Type VNC password into each of the six xterms that appear on workspace "One".
  5. Select Remote Observation Startup from the root menu on any one of the VNC virtual desktops.
  6. Enter contact information into the Remote Observers GUI Observer Contact Info window and click Send. At least one observer listed must be officially checked out on Nickel remote operations who will be present during observing.
  7. Check operation of CCD and shutter by taking a few test exposures.
  8. Take Dome Flats if desired.
  9. Call the 3-m TT to gain permission to open the dome. Contact numbers:
    • 3-m Telescope Control Room: 408-238-0652 or 408-238-0651
    • 3-m Electronics Shop: 408-238-4267
    • 3-m Telescope Tech Cell Phone: 408-316-9946
    • Support Astronomer On-Call Schedule
    • If all else fails, email with subject '40" REMOTE OBSERVER REQUESTS TECH HELP' and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
  10. Check the weather and web cameras.
  11. Open the dome (naux_fe).
  12. Turn on fans (naux_fe).
  13. Lower the windscreen (naux_fe).
  14. Open the mirror cover (naux_fe).
  15. Enable telescope motion (poco_fe).
  16. Turn on auto dome (poco_fe).
  17. Turn on telescope tracking (poco_fe).
  18. Keep and eye on the weather and periodically press "deadman" timer button.
  19. Take twilight flat fields (dx).
  20. Check telescope pointing and adjust telescope coordinates as necessary.
  21. Verify Guide Camera to CCD offsets, set guider fiducial.
  22. Focus telescope.
  23. Keep and eye on the weather and periodically press "deadman" timer button.
  24. Take lots of data (read the README in the data directory).

Shutdown Checklist

  1. Take calibration data if necessary (e.g. dome flats or darks).
  2. Park telescope (poco_fe).
  3. Disable movement (poco_fe).
  4. Close mirror cover (naux_fe).
  5. Turn off fans (naux_fe).
  6. Close dome shutter (naux_fe).
  7. Turn on dome lights (naux_fe) and confirm via the in-dome web camera that the dome shutter has closed.
  8. Raise windscreen (naux_fe).
  9. Confirm with in-dome web camera that the windscreen is up.
  10. Turn off dome lights (naux_fe).
  11. Archive/transfer data. Data are on noir in /data and available on-line at
  12. Fill out User (Trouble) Report.
  13. Call 3-m telescope operator (408-238-0652) and report status (even if no troubles).
  14. Quit or Exit all software running in the VNC virtual desktops.
  15. "Ctrl-C" keystroke in xterm window that "start_lick_viewers" was started in to stop the VNC viewers.
  16. Log out of remote computer, turn off lights, and lock the door.
  17. Go and get some well earned sleep.

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Last modified: Mar 18, 2015