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Observer Support at the Telescope
A Support Astronomer (SA) will be present until approximately 23:00 local time on the first night of each WHT and INT run (apart from runs with established visiting instruments), to provide an introduction to the telescope, instrumentation and data-acquisition systems, and to safety issues. The SA will be on-call at the Residencia throughout the first night. Unless otherwise agreed, observers should meet their SA in the telescope control room at 15:00 on the first day of the run. Support Astronomers usually make contact with their observers several weeks before the start of the observing run. INT support is provided by student SAs.
The WHT 'observing support assistant' (OSA, an enhancement of the former 'telescope-operator' role) provides all-night, year-round operator and engineering support at the telescope. The OSA will be present at the telescope by half an hour before sunset (usually carrying out pre-observing checks) and will by default ensure, weather permitting, that by sunset the dome is open and the telescope is available for observing. If observers need the telescope on-sky earlier (e.g. for unusually-demanding sky flats) they should discuss this in advance with the OSA (or SA).
It's expected that on-sky observations will end during morning twilight. Occasionally, e.g. if the dome couldn't be opened in the evening, the observer may need to take sky flats in morning twilight. If so, the OSA should be warned about this during the night, and taking sky flats should not extend beyond 10 minutes after sunrise (NB flats taken in bright twilight can be done with the WHT pointing at the zenith, allowing the OSA to park the telescope). The OSA will only rarely be able to stay at the telescope longer than this, due to various constraints (including allowed shift length), and such observations may also conflict with daytime engineering access to the telescope.
The OSA's mobile-phone number is +34 616 97 45 13.
INT observers may call on the OSA for advice, but should be aware that the OSA usually has to stay at the WHT, and can't go to the INT to investigate problems. Critical technical problems which arise at the INT on weekends or public holidays, and which cannot be solved by the OSA, will not be addressed until the next working day.
There is no engineering support on-site during the following periods (local time):
During these periods, the telescope buildings will be locked (key available from the Residencia reception), and visitors working alone should carry the lone-worker alarm and the lone-worker mobile phone. In the event of an emergency, call the Observing Support Assistant (phone +34 616 974513) or Residencia reception (phone +34 922 405500).
On normal working days, the operations-team staff will carry out only limited checks of the WHT and of the instrument scheduled for use that night. The telescope will usually be available to observers by 15:00. The operations team will not normally move any optical component in the instrument light-path (and if they do, the observers will be notified) but system restarts might change the detector readout settings. It's recommended that observers check during the afternoon that the instrument configuration has not been disturbed.
On a few working days (Christmas and New Year's eve, colour-coded light green on the schedules), there will be a reduced level of engineering support.
Only ING staff are allowed to move the WHT, or its dome or shutters.
Observers who have a long observing run at the INT, and who plan to change the observing team during the run, should let their SA know, well in advance of the run, the names of the observers and the date/s of the handover/s. Safety training will be provided for the new observers on the day of each handover.
Observers who wish to discuss any aspects of the run, after arrival on La Palma, but before the formal start-of-run introduction at the telescope, may want to arrange a preliminary meeting with their SA, perhaps in Santa Cruz, where the ING offices are located.
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