0.9-m Template Tips

Top 10 Tips for Preparing Your Template for 0.9-m Service Observing

********** WARNING **********

PREPARING YOUR TEMPLATE TAKES FAR MORE WORK THAN YOU PROBABLY ANTICIPATE, SO START EARLY!
 

  1. The form must be returned in ASCII format.
  2. Tell us whether you will be using the FULL chip (13.6 arcmin) or QUARTER chip (6.8 arcmin) mode, and what gain you wish to use.
  3. Be sure to include a list of filters will you need.
  4. Clearly state what calibration frames you need.
  5. Explicitly say if you need photometric conditions, or if non-photometric conditions are fine.  If two programs are submitted (i.e., photometric and non-photometric), clearly designate the two and make them able to "stand alone".  YOU CAN ONLY GIVE TWO OBSERVING OPTIONS FOR A NIGHT, NO MORE.  The observer can use the photometric list if the weather is photometric and completely disregard the non-photometric program that night.  If a particular target should be observed under either condition, it should be included in both lists.
  6. If a program is submitted that requires a given target to be observed more than once per night (e.g., a standard star at different airmasses), structure the observing list in a time-sequential order and list that object multiple times.  This prevents missing observations of standards at necessary airmasses.
  7. Make a reasonable assessment of what you can accomplish in the time awarded.  See www.chara.gsu.edu/~thenry/SMARTS/smarts.overheads for a listing of true overheads.  There is an exposure calculator for this telescope/CCD combination in IRAF.  Also, there is a new calculator using data taken in 2011 and is the preferred one to use.
  8. If you require that exposure times be adjusted based on the observing conditions, provide a finder with a clearly marked target and state an acceptable range in peak counts for that target (a fair limit is 50,000 counts, to avoid saturation at 64,000 and to leave a bit of breathing room).  For example, if you are doing precision astrometry and require at least 30,000 counts on a target, you could set an acceptable range of 30,000-40,000 counts and the observer will adjust the exposure time to meet that requirement.
  9. Finders are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all targets.  The 0.9m typically points to 30 arcsec.  Finders should be POSTED ON THE WEB AT A RELIABLE website so they can be quickly checked by the observer.  Each finder chart must have:
  • coordinates
  • N/E directions
  • scale (i.e. 10 arcmin on a side)
  • target marked
Note: if the observer must use the paper copy of Landolt standards, he must flip through several pages to locate the correct finder, which takes time.  Googling Landolt standards will routinely yield the latest website giving finder charts (the website sometimes moves, so we don't list it here).
  1. Double-check all coordinates.  Seriously.

Once your observing template has been examined (and likely revised) by the GSU SMARTS Team, you can check it on the nightly schedule website at:

        http://www.chara.gsu.edu/~thenry/SMARTS/scheduleYYYYA.htm, or
        http://www.chara.gsu.edu/~thenry/SMARTS/scheduleYYYYB.htm