Educational coder internship 2019

Are you interested in space and coding? We are running a 6-8 week, paid internship programme between June - August 2019 for undergraduate students. We are looking for students to work with the Las Cumbres Observatory education team to create tools for science communication, related to astronomy and robotic telescopes.

More services at Haleakala

We continue to make progress restoring services at our Haleakala site after the Feb 9 storm. Our portable generator continues to provide power for our equipment. The two 0.4m telescopes resumed making science observations on the night of Feb 27. The FLOYDS spectrograph will resume science observations tonight.
We made two changes to the user portal this week:
  • If you are a Co-I on a proposal, you will no longer see the list of Co-Is on the proposal's summary page. Only the PI of a proposal, who is responsible for coordinating the activities of all participants in the science program, will see the list of Co-Is and their email addresses.
  • When composing an observation request on the portal's composition page, the target coordinates can be entered in decimal or in sexagesimal format. For both the RA and the DEC coordinate, if you enter a value in sexagesimal format, the decimal conversion will be displayed immediately below. If you enter a value in decimal format, the sexagesimal conversion will be displayed immediately below.

Power restored on Haleakala

We had no power at our Haleakala site for two weeks, but last Friday, we got a portable generator up to the summit and got it hooked up. Our site manager spent the weekend testing all of the systems (enclosure, telescopes, instruments, etc.), and last night, we made a set of test observations with the 2m telescope. Science observations with the Spectral imager on the 2m telescope will resume tonight! We expect to make other telescopes/instruments available for science observations during the week.

Call for Proposals 2019B

Las Cumbres Observatory is soliciting proposals for science observations for the 2019B semester, which will begin on 1 June 2019 and run through 30 November 2019. This call is for astronomers from institutions without guarantees of Network time: the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), the University of Colorado, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC). Astronomers affiliated with LCO, including Time Allocation Committee members and Science Advisory Committee members, are also welcome to submit proposals. (LCO's Science Collaboration partners that have guaranteed time conduct independent proposal solicitations and reviews.)

No power on Haleakala

A powerful storm slammed into Maui this past weekend. High winds blew down utility poles, and power went out at Haleakala observatory. Today, the site still had no power, so observations haven't been possible. Our site manager is at the summit today to assess whether there's been any damage. We will update you on the timeline for resuming operations at Haleakala when we get more information. If you have time-critical observations scheduled from that site (OGG) in the coming nights, it's unlikely that they will get executed. If it's possible for us to make your time-critical observations elsewhere (e.g. with the 1m telescope in Texas), let us know.

Sinistro readout; real time BANZAI pipeline

At 0 UT on Feb 5, we will be reducing the CCD overhead times on the Sinistro imagers from 38s to 28s. The change will be immediately carried over to the calculation of overheads in the user portal. We will attempt to identify pre-transition observation requests that were generated using the request form's "Fill" button and contact the authors of those requests.

File name change; Sinistro readout reduction

Last week, I announced that we would be changing the naming convention for the master calibration frames, and that the change was "imminent." Well, today was the day. The BANZAI pipeline has been updated, and now the master calibration frames have names beginning with the site and telescope codes where the data were acquired.

Master cal file names

LCO's software team is currently working on a project to BANZAI-process data in "real time". Currently, the BANZAI pipeline operates in two modes: it creates a "quick look" data product as soon as an exposure is transferred back to HQ, and it creates a final data product at the end of the night. When this project is complete, the pipeline will create a single, final data product on the "quick look" timescale, i.e. as soon as possible. To enable this real time processing, we have to shift the timing of our calibration observations. And an additional change that we need to make first is to alter the names of the master calibration frames. If you never concern yourself with the master calibration frames, then you don't need to be concerned with this name change, either. However, the master calibration frame are available to all in the archive, and if you are (or your TOM software is) retrieving them, you should be aware that the name change is imminent. Currently, these files have names (using an fa12 master flat field for the SDSS g' filter as an example) like skyflat_fa12_20190115_bin1x1_gp.fits.fz . The new file names will begin with the site and telescope codes, so the fa12 example would be named coj1m011-fa12-20190115-skyflat-bin1x1-gp.fits.fz. Please let me (or know if you will be adversely affected by this change.

LCO works with NASA and the International Space Station in Black Hole Discovery

Image: Artist’s conception of an accretion disk of material flowing around a supermassive black hole, launching a jet of energetic particles.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Archon controllers in Australia. And Happy Holidays!

On Monday, Archon controllers were installed into the Sinistro imagers at our Siding Spring site. These two instruments, now dubbed fa12 and fa11, are the last of the Sinistros to get the new controllers. They will be made available for science observations as soon as our post-installation testing is complete. Early in 2019, we expect to reduce the readout times on all Sinistros network-wide, just as we did for the CCDs on the NRES spectrographs back in October.

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