Observing at LSO after P83

Dear visitor to the La Silla Observatory,

Starting from ESO P84, only technical support will be given on-site to observers. This means that the layout of a typical observing run is going to change.

This document describes how your observations will be handled in the new scheme of operations, which will replace science operations. It also contains links to other documents and information that will help you getting ready for the run.

It describes in chronological order how observing runs are handled, from beginning to end.


  1. When time is awarded
  2. Your trip to the Observatory
  3. At your arrival at LSO
  4. The Observations

1. When time is awarded

  • A welcome letter is sent to you after your program is approved;
  • A contact scientist is assigned to your program;
  • To help you with the preparation, instrument manuals are available.
  • In addition to the full manuals, for each instrument/telescope a cookbook containing the `tips and tricks' of the Support Astronomer is available.

2. Your trip to the Observatory

  • Your trip will be organized by vatravel (vatravel@eso.org);
  • La Serena Office is closed, so a contact point in La Serena will be given;
  • Transfers to LSO will be at fixed dates only: on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Transfers in a different date must be considered exceptional, and must be authorized by the site manager;
  • A change of observer and/or additional observers must be approved by the site manager (SM).

3. At your arrival at LSO

  • You are given a welcome package, including:
    • room keys, telephone code, computer account, flashlight, safety info;
    • office space and terminal in the new operations building;
    • a welcome letter that informs of the layout of your visit. In particular you should remember that:
      • access to the control room is only allowed when observing or when agreed with the system engineer (typically, the night before starting the observations);
      • you have an office where you can prepare your observing blocks (OB); for this purpose, you can use your computer account;
      The welcome package can also be retrieved here;
  • logistics informs the system engineer that you have arrived;
  • the system engineer contacts you asap to organize the next steps of your visit;
  • the system engineer acts as the interface between you and the day operations group, and in particular he:
    • informs the you of the safety restrictions that will be enforced in case of bad weather; the visitor is not allowed to drive cars;
    • asks you what instrument setup is needed for his/her observations;
    • if needed, he sends the setup request together with you (currently this is only needed for EFOSC2);
    • shows you how to do the data backup request;
    • arranges the visit to the control room to familiarize with the system, typically the night before the start of the observations. He will accompany you to the control room and introduce you to the day crew; thereby the night visit to the control room will also be organized;
    • on the starting day of the observations he will accompany you to the control room and make sure everything is ready to go.

4. The Observations

  • At 04:00pm on the first day of the observations, you will be accompanied to the control room and you will meet the day person assigned to your telescope/instrument. At that point the telescope and instrument operator (TIO):
    • transfers your OBs from the user account that was assigned to you, or from your laptop, to the data handling system (DHS) computer;
    • opens p2pp with your User Portal account;
    • imports the OBs into p2pp;
    • runs the afternoon calibrations that you prepared.
    OB queues will be available in the OT, collecting calibration OBs according to instrument mode, e.g. EFOSC2_2x2_normal_longslit.

    The calibration OBs and OB queues in the OT have been defined by the instrument scientists (IS) according to the calibration plan of their instrument;

  • The TIO checks the calibration frames to make sure that they are of standard quality;
  • He/She also checks the pipeline-processed frames to make sure they are of standard quality.
  • He/She monitors the QC parameters available in the Autrep pages;
  • In case of problems with the calibrations, follow-up actions will be taken;
  • The system engineer will also co-ordinate the preparation of the data back-up for the visitor.