Frequently Asked Questions
How does our system work ?
You are on a web page, which will add your request to a text file containing informations about all the observations to be made with the telescope you chose to use. On our side, we have a software (a scheduler) running on each telescope, which looks at the fields to be taken and selects, according to a set of priorities, which is the next field to be taken. Then an acquisition software takes the necessary steps (slewing the telescope, making sure it's well centered on the requested field, make sure focus is correct, start autoguiding, and take the series of exposures). In the end of the night, another software checks the quality of the images taken (centering of the field, number of stars, size and elongation of the stars) and if the field is accepted, an email is sent to the "requester". You can then reconnect to the site, and download your images as well as the necessary calibration files.
How can you set the priorities ?
Our site is oriented for people doing astronomy. And today's astronomy has different requirements as those of astrophotography. The first priority is the accessibility of the target. We are in Chile, we can not see the polar star, all fields above +40° of declination are rejected. Don't request an image in the same position of the sun. The first real set of priority is time. Some observations require the images to be taken at a given time (exoplanet transit, star occultation by asteroids). Some are urgent, for example if one wants to confirm a discovery (astrometry of asteroids, confirmation of novae and supernovae). If you want to make a color picture of a nebula, if it's taken tonight or in a couple of nights, the image will be the same. Another priority is sky brightness. Some images require a dark sky, some don't care if the moon is in the sky. Most mounts are german equatorial mounts, and we try to image your fields, so as not to cross the meridian during the series of exposures. If you require an observation lasting 5 hours, it might be rejected. Long exposures are better split in individual series lasting one hour maximum.
How do we set the priorities ?
If the telescope is under used, there are no problems. When there are several fields which can be taken at the same time, we have to fix priorities. We try not to cross meridian during the series of exposures. We don't take images when the field is too low (30° altitude). We take in priority the fields which have to be taken at a given time. If we have time to take another series of exposures we do it. If there are several fields which can be taken (with the same urgency) we take the most western field. Again you have more probability to get your field taken if it does not require three hours of observing.
Are we going to continue this FAQ page ?
Yes, according to the requests in the forum.