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Proceedings Paper

Apache Point Observatory 3.5-m telescope: operational design and issues
Author(s): Bruce Gillespie
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Paper Abstract

The "new-technology" 3.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory has been in routine operations since 1994. Designed to enable nearly full remote operation via the Internet, remote use of the telescope comprises two-thirds cf all observing. Rapid instrument change capabilities and flexible scheduling allow for some optimized science utilization. Several science programs can share the telescope on a given night, using more than one scientific instrument. Remote users can also collaboratively use the telescope simultaneously from different geographical locations. Synoptic observing programs and rapid-response observations are routinely accommodated. More than two hundred observers have used the telescope remotely, and by the end of I 997 more than 60 scientific publications based on telescope data have appeared in the journals. Several scenarios for operating the telescope have been explored. The current scheme is to schedule the telescope by quarters based on prioritized proposals submitted by the consortium member institutions. Except for short synoptic observations and targets of opportunity, each night is divided into halves. These half-night blocks provide adequate time on target plus calibration time, and provide simplification ofthe scheduling process which is done manually. Enhancements to telescope performance and efficiency are underway, which will provide broader scientific potential and support more exotic scheduling and operational paradigms. "Remote" queue and adaptive scheduling are conceivable, and the use of existing "Al-assisted" scheduling aides is also under consideration. Keywords: remote observing, Internet, 3.5-meter telescope, Astrophysical Research Consortium, ARC, Apache Point Observatory

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 July 1998
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 3349, Observatory Operations to Optimize Scientific Return, (3 July 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.316525
Show Author Affiliations
Bruce Gillespie, Apache Point Observatory (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3349:
Observatory Operations to Optimize Scientific Return
Peter J. Quinn, Editor(s)

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