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UES (fig 1) is part of an observing system for high-resolution spectroscopy over the wavelength range 3000 to 11000 Å . Highest-level control of this observing system is intended to be from the observer's terminal, by means of simple yet powerful commands in Instrument Control Language (ICL). These initiate sequences of commands at several lower levels, finally moving the optical hardware, controlling exposures and manipulating the data. All the necessary auxiliary systems (such as the telescope and detector) are also under ICL control, so that the user need not know the constituent parts of the system in intimate detail, but can control them globally, in ways that are logical to a system user. Although such highest-level control will probably never be perfect, and ad-hoc or makeshift actions at lower levels will often be necessary, the visiting observer should start by considering the system as one organic whole, and only descend to lower levels as necessary.
There are several aspects to the UES system, which will be covered separately in this introduction.