Nassau Station Robotic Telescope Reference
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How to fill out the Proposal Submission Form in a few easy steps.
Pick an Object to Observe
First you have to pick an object you want to observe. It is important to consider the rules currently in effect for what the telescope can and can not observe.
Obtain Coordinates for Your Chosen Object
If you know the coordinates for the object you wish to observe, just go ahead and type them in the boxes provided for Right ascension and declination. Be sure to fill out the epoch for the coordinates as well.
If you do not know the coordinates of the object you wish to observe, or it is an object like the moon, a planet, an asteroid, or a comet, who's position changes with time then you want to search the database of catalogs we have provided. Just enter the name or catalog designation of the object in the form box labeled "Object Name." Next select the appropriate catalog from the list below the "Object Name" box. Finally click on the "Search" button. If the object is successfully found in the catalog then the proper Right Ascension, Declination, and Epoch will appear in the correct boxes.
If you are submitting a proposal for observing the moon, a planet, an asteroid, or a comet you must obtain the coordinates for that object by searching the planet and minor planet catalog. If you do not obtain the coordinates in this manner then chances are you will get a picture of blank sky rather than the object you intended to image.
It is also important when you submit a proposal to consider what parts of the sky are accessible to the telescope in the near future. The form will not allow you to submit a proposal for an object with coordinates outside the declination range allowed. The form will let you submit a proposal outside the Right Ascension range accessible on the present night assuming that you want the object observed at a later date (possibly several months later) when it becomes possible to do so. Here is a form based utility that will help you determine the Right Ascension range accessible on a given night.
When using the Catalog of Proper Names be sure to use the following guidelines:
- Do not worry about capitalization. The search is not case sensitive.
- Be sure to spell the name to search correctly. The search engine cannot correct your spelling.
- Omit the articles "the" or "a" from the name to search on. For example, to search for The Mice, just enter Mice.
- Omit any words like "galaxy," "nebula," or "cluster" from the name. For example, to search for The Ring Nebula, just enter Ring.
- There is one notable exception to this rule. There is a Helix Nebula and a Helix Galaxy. You must NOT omit "galaxy" or "nebula" to get the proper object in this case. Only entering Helix will obtain the Helix Nebula.
- Omit any apostrophes (') from the name to search on. For example, to search for Hubble's Variable Nebula, just enter Hubbles.
- Greek letters are spelled out. For example, Eta Carinae.
- If you are having trouble finding your object with the search engine, check out the list of objects with proper names.
Name Your Proposal
This proposal is your baby and what do you do with a new baby? You name it of course. So in the box labeled "Title" fill out the name that you are giving for your proposal. While creative names are not rewarded by being moved higher in the observing queue, the staff of Warner and Swasey observatory enjoys a good chuckle and any you could give us would be well appreciated.
Setting Coordinate Offsets
The automated routine that will center the telescope will work by pointing the coordinates to the ones you have listed and then centering up the brightest object in the field. In 99% of all cases this will result in centering up the object which you want to observe. That other 1% of the time your object may be the faint companion of a bright star so to center it up you'll want to tweak the telescope a little to one side of the brightest object in the field to center up your object. This will be particularly important for taking spectra with the spectrograph of stars in clusters or faint galaxies in crowded fields. In these cases the telescope will center on the brightest object in the filed and then use the RA and Dec Offsets provided to tweak the telescope onto the exact object you want. For more information on the telescope's field of view, click here.
If you aren't that picky about where your field ends up centered (that's 99% of you and the other 1% know who they are) then just ignore the offsets and keep them both set to zero and don't worry about it.
For a Direct Observation
Designate Filters: Fill out the number of exposures you want with each filter. We suggest that unless you have a specific reason to want a specific filter (ie. you want the photometric colors of an object), that you should as a default use the Clear (no filter) setting on the filter wheel. See here for an explanation of this.
Mosaics: In the Direct box under the number of exposures to take with each filter there is a question that asks, "Is this to be a mosaic?" The default answer is no. A mosaic is a pattern of overlapping images that can be pasted together to get a complete picture of something that is too big to fit in the telescope field. If you want to take a mosaic of images, answer yes to this question. Otherwise, keep the answer no.
When finished filling in the number of exposures for each filter, click on the "Proceed" button at the bottom of the form.
Exposure Lengths: The next form will be displayed with a table listing the filters you selected across the top. If you need help choosing proper exposure times go here. Verify that the information displayed about the coordinates, epoch, and offsets are correct. Fill in the exposure times for each exposure in the boxes in the table.
Almost Finished: Enter your user name and password at the bottom of the form. (If you aren't a registered user, it is FREE to become one using this form.) Click on the "Submit" button and if you haven't selected to build a mosaic you should receive a message thanking you for your submission to the observing queue. That wasn't so painful after all. Was it?
Build a Mosaic: Enter the dimensions of the mosaic that you want to build. Normally the mosaic is built with the across axis parallel to the celestial equator. By setting the rotation angle to a value other than zero, that can be changed. When finished, click the "Build Mosaic" button. You should receive a message thanking you for your submission to the observing queue.
For a Spectroscopic Observation
The spectrograph is just a set of drawings in Autocad and Zemax right now. We'll tell you more about how to submit a spectroscopic observation when the instrument is built.
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Submit a proposal for the direct imager
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