Nickel POCO Quick Start Instructions
This section of the Nickel POCO Manual is intended to provide just enough instruction to get an observer started with POCO's most basic function: acquiring a target. It presumes that the dome, mirror cover, and rain screen have been opened, and the wind screen lowered -- none of which is controlled through POCO. It also presumes that that the autouguider is running and displayed on a terminal in the control room. If any of these is unfamiliar to you, then you probably have not been checked out on the Nickel. If that's the case, stop, go to the phone, and call a support astronomer!

Step One: Start Nickel POCO

In the dome, on the right-hand edge of the orange junction box located on the east side of the south pier, you will find a toggle switch, the up-position of which is labeled "Old System," and the down-position, "New System." Put it in the down position. A brief alarm will sound, indicating that the telescope is enabled for operation. Before returning to the control room, double-check that nothing has been left on the observing floor with which the telescope could collide.

In the control room, locate the console for the computer redeye3 (a flat panel display generally located on the left side of the observer's table). If the POCO Main Window is not visible, start the POCO GUI from the icon so labeled along the bottom edge of the display. The POCO GUI will appear, along with its message/log window. You may, if you wish, close the latter (it will automatically reappear if it has something to report).

First confirm that you are running the correct version of the GUI for your instrument by checking the label in the Main Window's upper right-hand corner. (Direct Imaging (Nickel CCD-2) or Nickel Spectrograph) This should have configured automatically, depending on which instrument is mounted on the telescope. If it is not correct, see Troubleshooting.

Next, enable movement with the Movement button at lower right in the Main Window, and turn on Tracking and Autodome, also at lower right.

Step Two: Set the Pointing Axis and Diagonal Mirror

If direct imaging, choose the axis ("Guider" or "CCD") to which POCO will point the telescope. For initial pointing, it is generally best to select "Guider on Axis" (you may, depending on your preference, later switch to "CCD on Axis"). To select the axis, use the CCD/Guider on Axis button at bottom left in the Main Window; the currently selected axis is displayed at upper left. The choice of axes for direct imaging is fully explained in "Main Window, Direct Imaging Version".

If doing spectroscopy, no choice of pointing axis is available, as POCO always points on axis with this instrument.

If direct imaging, make sure that the diagonal mirror is at the "In" position (the diagonal is always in for direct imaging). If necessary, move the diagonal in, use the Diag. is In/Out button at bottom left in the Main Window.

If doing spectroscopy the diagonal mirror should be at the "In" position for target acquisition. Once the object is acquired on the guide TV, the diagonal is moved out, and the object centered on the slit. The use of the diagonal for spectroscopy is fully explained in "Main Window, Spectroscopy Version".

Step Three: Point to a Target

For the first setting of the night, it's always a good idea to choose a bright star that can be unequivocally identified. The Nautical Almanac's list of bright stars is an excellent source for stars brighter than about fifth magnitude. Find a star within about one half hour of the meridian and at a declination reasonably close to +37 degrees.

Enter the catalogue coordinates into the RA and Dec boxes in the entry panel near the top of the Main Window. Enter the coordinates' epoch into the Epoch box. The Object Name entry is optional. Note that when the coordinates

The moment you've been waiting for has arrived! Push the Move to Target button, sit back, listen to the telescope slew (you'll hear a brief warning alarm first) and the dome turn, and watch for the star to appear on the guide TV. (If you have questions about the use the guider, consult the guider manual, or call a support astronomer.

... but what if no star appears? Push the Object Not Found button at the upper right. You'll be presented with a checklist that is likely to lead you to the problem.

... and finally, even if you were successful the first time out in finding the target, please take the time to at least glance over this manual to familiarize yourself with POCO's features.