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Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I access the telescope?
  • Only authorized users are allowed to use the Tarleton Telescope. The use of the Tarleton telescope is currently restricted to Tarleton faculty doing astronomical research or Tarleton students working on astronomy projects. Details about Guest observers are giving below.
  • Make a request for Observing time, unless you are already scheduled (see the observatory schedule on the main page).
  • Decide weather the observing will be done locally at the observatory or remotely or both.
  • If a group of Tarleton faculty and students are observing together, decide who will be the primary observer. The primary observer will log into the observatory computers and will be responsible for setting up the scope and do a proper shut down at the end.
  • For projects with visiting guest observers, the Tarleton project coordinator will be responsible for setting upt the scope and do a proper shut down at the end.
How do I access the telescope locally from the observatory?

If observing form the control room locally, log onto camera and telescope computer using the ACE_Limited account. The password has been distributed to all authorized users. This password is not be made public. Also log onto the astronomer computer using the personal windows account. ACE_Limited account does not apply to the astronomer computer. Note: Only the ACE_Limited account has the appropriate privileges for ACE software to control the telescope and the imaging software MaxIM DL.

How do I use the telescope remotely from places other than the observatory?
  • Use Real VNC enterprise edition to enable remotely login. All observer will use their windows ID and password to authenticate. Preferably the primary observer will log in first.
  • If Real VNC log in is successful, a windows log in screen will be presented. On the camera and telescope computer, log in as ACE_Limited. The password is the same as when you log in locally at the observatory.
  • Fire up ACE from the Desktop or the Start menu. ACE interface will come up with log in credentials. Log in ID is observer and the password has been distributed to all authorized users. The scope is now ready for use.
What is the typical start up procedure?
  • Create folder on the I:\Images\Nightly-Observations on the camera computer. The folder name should be year:month:day, eg. 20110228. Use the Calendar date rather than Julian date.
  • In ACE define the folder in the Observations:Simple menu.
  • Do bias and darks and ensure that the files are saved in the right folder.
  • Open dome shutters. Observers usually open dome half hour before their observing time for inside temperature to reach in equilibrium with outside temperature. Do not open the mirror covers before the dome shutters. Some program may require sky Flats, these are usually done just after sunset during twilight or before sunrise during twilight. If the program does not require sky Flats, it is safe to skip this step.
  • Carry out appropriate observation as per you program requirements.
How do I shut down the telescope?
  • At the end of the observing session, close the mirror covers.
  • Close the dome shutters and turnoff autodome
  • Send the Telescope to Flat park if screen Flats are required for data reduction, in most cases's this is usually the case. Complete Flats as per program requirements.
  • Put the Telescope to Zenith Park.
  • Transfer all data to the File-server. If you had a long night of observations this may take a while. There are two choices, 1) use an external drive to transfer the data to the File server in room 103 on campus or 2) Next morning go to room 103 and login to the observatory computer and transfer the data. Please note that data transfer from the computer to the File-server will happen only if both computers are in log in state.
  • Log of and quit ACE. Ensure that all fields are red on the interface.
  • Log of all computer. Do not turn off any computers.
  • If observing remotely exit out of Real VNC, else if observing locally
  • Lock all cupboards if they were unlocked while observing locally.
  • Turn of all inside and outside lights if observations were done locally from the observatory.
  • Check to ensure that the building door is locked, and the fence gate is locked when departing from the observatory.
What is the policy for computer reboots?
  • There may be times when things don't work and computer reboots may be necessary. Only do hard reboots if someone is locally present at the observatory. In most cases restart may work.
  • If no one is present at the observatory, then only do computer restart as oppose to hard reboots.
  • There is no way to turn computers on remotely if they are in the off position. This may change in the future.
What is the policy for guest observers?
  • Guest observers are observers who are partners in the research program of the principle observer or research projects that are undergoing within Tarleton under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Program for Astronomy Education and Research at Tarleton and partner institution.
  • Guest observers can visit the observatory locally while the Tarleton observer is physically present at the observatory and for the duration of the observing session. The principle observer or the Tarleton project coordinator will be the responsible person.
  • Guest observers are not allowed to be left alone at the observatory.
  • Guest observers may assist in the observing session. At the discretion of the principle observer or project coordinator they may use the telescope, while at the observatory.
  • Guest observers are not authorized to use and control the telescope remotely. However, they may observe the CCD images live on the Tarleton Observatory webpage (see instructions elsewhere).
Are there other policies and procedures an observer should be aware of?
Tarleton State University provides technology resources for the purpose of accomplishing tasks related to the university's mission. To access the policies regarding the technology, please click here.
What are the standard procedures for computer use?
  • Any issues related to computers should be first communicated to Dr. Goderya and Mr. Larry Barr either via email or verbal.
  • Student needing to use the observatory and computers for Astronomical research should ask their faculty mentor to send an email request to Observatory staff with student ID numbers.  This request will initiate the following:
    • Set up of access code to the key lock box to retrieve the observatory building key.
    • A request will be sent to the Dean to obtain access to the science building and room 103 after hours and campus security office will be notified of the student using the facility after hours.
    • A key to room 103 will be issued.
    • Computer account will be setup for the student.
  • Once accounts are setup student will need to go and reset their password or temporary password will be given to the student.
  • We have installed legal and licensed copies of software on these computers and are required to keep documented proof of purchase of the licenses.  If you have a need to install specific software for your research and it requires administrative access, then send in a request to the administrator. You may be required to purchase and provide a legal software disk and a copy of the license. Usually this is done by the faculty mentor.  If a software does not require an administrative access and you can install it in your local user account, then be aware that you are required to ensure that you have a legal copy, proof of purchase and a license, in case we are audited and ask to produce documentation, you and your faculty mentor will be the responsible persons and will be contacted by the administrator to provide documentation.
  • Specific Instructions for each computer are given below and users need to be familiar with of their use. In general computers should not be shutdown and left that way. Also when you are done using the computers log off so other users can use them.
What is the appropriate use for each of the different computers?
Computers in Room 103A in the Science building
  • File-Server:  This computer stores all the images obtained by the telescope and can also be used to store all reduced data as well as derivative works and text documents.  Shut down and restart features are disabled as the computer needs to be accessible at all times from different computers. Do not forcefully shut down the computers without proper authorization from the administrators. Direct access to users will not be provided, however the computer's hard drive (1TB) is sharable and users can map the drive in their local account and access all the data that is available to them.  Currently there is no mechanism to make archives and backups of the originals and users should be aware of that. Also all raw images obtained from the telescope are the property of Tarleton Observatory and should not be deleted from the camera computer.  Also proper approvals should be obtained from the PI of that project before the data is shared with other users. In general raw images are for the exclusive use of the PI of the project for the first year, after which Tarleton observatory reserves the right to share that data with other users if requested.
    • All the raw data from the observatory is backed up on the File-Server in the folder called "NightlyObservations" under subfolder "DailyDump form Camera-obsv-Nightly Observations". Users can copy data from this folder; however do not save any data in this folder to prevent the original data being overwritten.
    • All reduced data should be saved in the folder "Users Reduced-Data". Users should create a folder with their user name so that other users can know who it belongs too.  It is a good idea to put a small word document in that folder and describe what that data is and who is the PI for the project in case appropriate permission are need for other use.
    • Users have access to all the old data prior to June 1, 2001. If you retrieve data from these folders, you should save your new work in "User Reduced-Data " folder.
  • Astronomer-103A:  This computer is provided of astronomical computing and to access the observatory computers. Users can access this computer remotely via RealVNC. Shut Down and Restart features are disabled. Do not forcefully shut down the computer without proper authorization from the administrator. Remember that this computer is remotely accessible by other users and if you have your email or personal information up they will be able to see it and use it. The following licensed software are available on this computer; AIP4Win- not yet installed IDL SAS: not yet installed MaxIM DL: not yet installed Astrometrica LibreOffice (equivalent to Microsoft Word) SSH and SFTP RealVNC viewer
  • Telescope-103A:This computer is provided mainly to access the observatory computers remotely during the night and for astronomical computing and data reduction during the day time.  Shutdown and Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up; however users should not shut down these computers when they leave the room. The following software is available for use on this computer. AIP4Win (not yet installed) Astrometrica LibreOffice (equivalent to Microsoft Word) RealVNC viewer
  • Camera-103A: This computer is provided mainly to access the observatory computers remotely during the night and for astronomical computing and data reduction during the day time.    Shut down and Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up; however users should not shut down these computers when they leave the room. The following software is available for use on this computer. Astrometrica LibreOffice (equivalent to Microsoft Word) RealVNC viewer
  • Sci-103A-1:This computer is for general purpose computing and can also be used to access the observatory computers.  Shut down and Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up; however users should not shut down these computers when they leave the room. The following software is available for use on this computer. Astrometrica MaxIM DL AIP4Win (not yet installed) Microsoft Office RealVNC viewer
  • Sci-103A-2: This computer is for general purpose computing and can also be used to access the observatory computers.  Shut down and Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up; however users should not shutdown these computers when they leave the room. The following software is available for use on this computer. Astrometrica Microsoft Office RealVNC viewer
  • Sci-103A-3: This computer is for general purpose computing and can also be used to access the observatory computers. It is not on the observatory network but on the Tarleton network.  Students can particularly access their Tarleton H drive. Shut down and Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up; however users should not shut down these computers when they leave the room. The following software is available for use on this computer. MaxIM DL Microsoft Office RealVNC viewer SAS IDL
Computers at the Observatory
  • Camera-Obvs: This computer is reserved for bringing up images from CCD and Guide Camera's using MaxIM DL. Users should only use this computer to bring up MaxIM DL via the telescope computer.   Users are not allowed to install any kind of software even if it does not require admin access.  Remote Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up, however, it should not be shut down since once the computer is physically off it cannot be rebooted remotely. Users are also specifically asked not to use the Browsers to visit social websites or view their emails. Remember this computer is remotely accessible and other user can view the screen when they login.
  • Camera-2-Obvs: At present this computer is reserved for the seeing monitor and it's under development. Further details will be provided later. Users cannot access this computer at present.
  • Telescope-Obvs: This computer is reserved for the telescope. Users should only use this computer to bring up ACE software and control the telescope.   Users are not allowed to install any kind of software even if it does not require admin access.  Remote Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up, however, it should not be shut down since once the computer is physically off it cannot be rebooted remotely. Users are also specifically asked not to use the Browsers to visit social websites or view their emails. Remember this computer is remotely accessible and other user can view the screen when they login.
  • Astronomer-Obvs: This computer is reserved for auxiliary observatory equipment that requires remote access or use equipment that is independent of the telescope and the science camera. It can be accessible remotely via RealVNC.   Remote Restart is allowed in case the computer hangs up, however, it should not be shut down since once the computer is physically off it cannot be rebooted remotely. Users can use the Internet browsers however, remember that this computer is remotely accessible and other user can view the screen when they login.  The following applications are installed on this machine. WeatherLink: This software is to display the weather station data.  This application need to remain running at all times from the observer account so that it can send the weather data to the telescope computer. Do not shut down this computer. If you do log off the observer account for some reason then once you are done log back in to the observer account and restart the WeatherLink software and lock the computer instead of logging off. Stellarium: This is planetarium software. Skype: To enable voice communication between observers at the observatory and remote users.
  • Suraj-Obvs: This is a Linux based system and we have plans to install IRAF and other Linux based astronomy applications on it.