Observer Guidelines

-Notice: due to the global pandemic associated with Covid-19, the observatory is activating contingency plans for Remote Observations in order to reduce the health risks to staff and astronomers.-

The Carnegie Telescopes at LCO (Swope, duPont, Magellan) are all operated in a 100% “classical” mode where the experienced visiting/remote astronomer is an integral member of the operations team responsible for data acquisition and analysis. The site operations staff is not designed to provide observational training nor night-time scientific support to observers, so it is expected that all observers will be experienced and self-sufficient.

The following guidelines must therefore be strictly adhered to.

  1. Inexperienced observers must be accompanied by experienced ones.
  2. Experienced observers who have used the telescopes but not the scheduled instrument should:
    • Thoroughly read the instrument manual and cookbooks (if appropriate), and correspond with the instrument P.I. should questions arise.
    • Coordinate with an experienced observer to join them at the beginning of their run.

The cooperation of all observers is requested in following these guidelines.

Filling in the necessary forms (see below) is the most reliable way of communicating with the Observatory’s logistics and technical staff.

Check the Observatory’s web page for manuals, safety information, and instrument set-up forms. Your instrument set up form is the only indication we have that you will, actually, be using the observing time assigned to you. Ideally you should send in your set up form at least 14 days in advance.

Observer Support and Technical Assistance

At Magellan, an Instrument Specialist is available at the telescopes in the afternoon of each observing night. The instrumentation will be prepared in the state requested in your instrument setup form(s).

Telescope operators have their meals around 17:30 in winter and 18:30 summer. They will get to the telescope prior to sunset and be available for telescope startup and any desired twilight sky calibrations. All telescope operators have defined working hours which run from sunset to dawn including one hour for their meals and some rest. This should be transparent for observers.

If a problem occurs during the night, the telescope operator will request the necessary technical assistance from appropriate site support staff.

The Astronomers Support Building (ASB) houses a conference room, staff offices, and electronic and mechanical shops. If support staff are not available at the control room or via telephone, consider seeking assistance at the ASB.

NOTE ON REPORTING PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED DURING THE NIGHT or DURING YOUR RUN: This is an important issue. When you encounter a problem, please make sure that it gets clearly written into the daily report. Don’t assume that the Telescope Operator is always aware of your difficulties. Make it explicit. Daily reports are web-based and can be edited and re-submitted as more information is able to be provided. A section has been included in the daily reports for astronomers to write their comments. Please use this to report problems, needs, requirements, etc.