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1.11. Successful Proposals and Observing

After the Time Assignment Committee (TAC) has met, you will be notified when the TAC grades and feedback on your proposal are available. These are available to all members of the proposal team through OPAL. All proposers are notified when the schedule for the next semester is released, and these schedules will appear on the web.

Generally, at least one member of the observing team must be present at the SOC to do the observations. The visiting observer should be well-versed with the needs of their observing program before arriving, particularly if they did not write the observing proposal or schedule files. If they need assistance from the friend or DA to prepare their schedules, they should arrive well before the start of their observations; at least two weekdays.

Occupational Health and Safety regulations require that observers are not to observe for more than 16 hours, so for long observations you will need more than one observer.

Plan your trip to the SOC with the help of the ATNF Visitor's Information. You will need to book transport, accommodation and computer resources in Marsfield before arrival.

Note that multi-configuration observations are likely to occur weeks or even months apart, so you may need to plan either one long visit or several short trips. Overseas observers will require a valid visa and passport for entry into Australia.

The Compact Array is controlled from user generated schedule files. Schedule files are prepared with the CABB web scheduler.

Schedules contain source names, positions, frequencies, bandwidths, and any other information that caobs needs for observations.

A useful tool to determine the altitude, azimuth, and rising and setting times of astronomical objects, which may help with preparation of your schedule files, is coord. Currently, this is most easily accessed via the Parkes website. When using this tool be sure to change the site to Australia Telescope Compact Array, and change the elevation limit to 12 degrees for cm observing at the ATCA.

1.11.1. The Duty Astronomer

A Duty Astronomer will be present at the SOC to help local observers get their observations started, and to help with any problems that arise during the observations. Our web site has the list of duty astronomers for the upcoming semester, as well as for previous semesters. The Duty Astronomer has no obligation to participate in the observing.

For help before and after your observations, see Section 1.10.1.

1.11.2. NAPAs, ToOs and over-riding observations

The ATCA is responsive to requests for observations of targets of opportunity. There are two paths to such observations: through a NAPA (non-apriori assignable) project, or through a ToO (target of opportunity) request.

A NAPA project is one whose science goals have been set down in a proposal that the TAC has evaluated in the normal way. Such projects can be triggered any time during the semester, whenever the investigator wants to proceed. The project will have requested a specific amount of time for the semester, but this is not binding.

A ToO request can also be made at any time during the semester. Unlike NAPA projects though, a ToO will not generally be allowed to over-ride a scheduled observation.

1.11.2.1. Requesting an observation

The first step to either trigger a NAPA project, or request a ToO observation, is to email either the alerts exploder () or the scheduler directly (); the former is preferable since there is a greater chance of someone seeing the request quickly.

For a NAPA trigger, you should include in your email the NAPA's project code, and some details about the source(s) you are triggering on, including at least right ascensions and declinations. For a ToO request, you should also include a short scientific justification for why you want to observe.

If you are requesting a slot of Director's time (also known as green time), then you should also put in a request via the Portal's booking system. If you require an over-ride of scheduled time (only available for NAPA projects), then please state your preferred observation time in your email.

Since the beginning of the 2017OCT semester, it has been possible for almost any NAPA project to over-ride almost any scheduled project. Any exceptions to this will be made clear in the release notes for the semester, and will be communicated privately to the investigators of NAPA projects who cannot avail themselves of over-rides.

The observatory will try to make contact with NAPA requesters as quickly as possible after a trigger has been issued, but sometimes it might not be possible to reach observatory staff (eg. overnight, at weekends, etc.). If the investigators think it necessary, NAPA projects may over-ride scheduled observations without further consultation with observatory staff. We recommend that in such a case, the investigator wishing to over-ride communicate with the current observer in charge to effect the change to the NAPA. It should be noted though that if the NAPA project has already used up the time that it requested for the semester, it is no longer entitled to over-ride scheduled time and must use Director's time instead.

In the case that a NAPA investigator wants to start observing, and the telescope is idle, the current time is unallocated, and there is no observer in charge, they may proceed without any further consultation. This is true for any NAPA project, even those which may not have achieved the grade required to over-ride scheduled time. The investigator must though notify any observers who may want to start their scheduled observations. Even if the time is unallocated, the telescope is idle, and there is no observer in charge, a ToO observation should not assume control of the telescope without permission from observatory staff, since it may be that their science request conflicts with another scheduled project.

For NAPA projects which require very prompt response to a trigger, we recommend the use of the rapid response mode (Section 2.5). Use of this mode is limited in the same way as for a normal NAPA, but an email request does not need to be sent prior to the trigger, and the observing system will manage the transition to the NAPA observations automatically. The investigators of each project that is over-ridden by a rapid response trigger will be notified by email of the displacement, at the time of the trigger.

Otherwise, observatory staff will try to find a time that maximises the science output of the NAPA or ToO request, and minimises the disruption to scheduled time. In any event, all affected investigators will be notified by email as soon as possible after the decision is made.

If multiple requests are received to look at the same target, then staff will need to decide how to allocate the time. In general, NAPA projects will be prioritised over ToO requests, because the TAC has already evaluated the science cases for the NAPAs. This will hold even if the NAPA project has exhausted its time allocation for the semester. If multiple NAPA requests are made for the same target, then both the TAC ranking score and the order in which the requests were received will be considered.

It is possible for one NAPA to be over-ridden by another NAPA, if the observatory staff think it appropriate to do so. In such a case, it would be inappropriate for a NAPA investigator to take control of the telescope without first consulting with observatory staff.

Rapid response observations are a special case: the automatic system does not need staff interaction to work, and so if a rapid response request arrives while another NAPA project is being observed, the rapid response over-ride will take priority. Once a rapid response over-ride is being observed, it must be allowed to run for its allocated duration, and the automatic system will reissue the over-ride should the observation be interrupted. Observatory staff do though have the power to stop a rapid response over-ride observation if necessary.