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ATCA Release notes for 2016OCT

ATCA observing: The default observing location for all ATCA observations is the Science Operations Centre (SOC) at the ATNF headquarters in Marsfield, Sydney. Observers no longer have the option of travelling to Narrabri to conduct routine observations. First-time observers are required to observe from the SOC, where they will be supported by the Duty Astronomer (DA) and Operations staff.

The Duty Astronomer role is now based at the SOC, and the DA will be present on-site for first-time observers and be contactable at all times, but may provide support from other locations for remote observers (i.e., remote from the SOC). All observers coming to the SOC will be provided with a "Friend" for help both before observations start (e.g., with schedule writing) and after the end of observations (e.g., with data reduction). The Friend allocated to each project will be indicated on the schedule summary (AEST or UT) page.

The present annual requirement to observe from the SOC in order to be "remote qualified" will be retained for most observers. Regular, competent observers (typically, people observing on at least three separate occasions or for more than 10 days per semester) can extend the time between their return visits by 6 months.

The Marsfield site has a Lodge which is able to provide on-site accommodation for observers and DAs. Please use the new webform to book at least two weeks in advance to ensure a room is available.

ATCA Legacy Projects: CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science is implementing a program of ATCA Legacy Projects from the 2016OCT semester. Legacy Projects are be large, coherent science investigations, not reproducible by any combination of smaller projects, that generate data of general and lasting importance to the broad astronomy community. More details are available from the Legacy Project webpage. The call for Expressions of Interest proposed that Legacy Projects would be supported at the level of 25% of the available observing time. As there is some uncertainty over the funding of the ATCA into the future, the TAC was advised that ATNF would be willing to support Legacy Projects at a higher level.

The TAC recommended two projects be given the highest priority: C3132, "GAMA Legacy ATCA Southern Survey (GLASS): A Legacy 4cm Survey of the GAMA G23 Field" and C3157, "Deep Imaging of the Circum-galactic Medium with ATCA." The TAC also recommended that two further projects be supported at a lower priority: C3145, "Dense Gas Across the Milky Way -- The 'Full-Strength' MALT45" and C3152, "A Comprehensive ATCA Census of High-Mass Cores." C3132 and C3157 have been allocated time in 2016OCT with about one-third of the observing time being allocated to these projects. The intention is to start scheduling C3145 and C3152 in 2017APR based on a favourable funding profile.

ATCA portal: The portal is a web-based that enables the observers to book in advance for observing blocks and to register as the current observer-in-charge. It also provides alerts, contact details, and a improved chat facility over that previously used in the ATCA observing VNC session. More details are available from the ATCA Current Issues webpage and the ATCA User Guide. First-time users should refer to the ATCA Portal Beginners Guide.

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI): There is a new strong emitter in the 16cm band in the 2630-2670 MHz range, a previously relatively clear part of the spectrum often used by 16cm-band observers for their delay calibration. Instructions for dealing with this are are available from the ATCA Current Issues webpage. RFI in the 16cm band also causes the sampler statistics to fluctuate, and the automatic attenuator setting often does not work. A set of standard attenuator settings for the 16cm band has been determined and these can be manually set -- see section 3.2.2 of the ATCA User Guide for more details. (If they have been set by a previous observer, it may not be necessary to set them again.)

There is also some RFI in the 15mm band in the frequency ranges 17.7--18.2 GHz, 18.8--19.3 GHz and 19.7--20.2 GHz which arises from a geostationary satellite and is stronger towards equatorial declinations. See the ATCA Current Issues webpage for more information.

CABB modes: All current CABB modes will be available for the 2016APR semester: (1) the 1MHz continuum ("no zooms") mode, (2) the 1MHz zooms mode (1M-0.5k), with up to 16 zoom bands per IF available, (3) the 64MHz mode (64M-32k), which provides 32 channels of 64MHz bandwidth and up to 16 zoom bands (each having 2048 channels across it) in each IF (4) the "hybrid" mode, with 2048 x 1MHz channels in IF1 (and no zooms) and 32 x 64MHz channels in IF2 (with zooms). (5) the pulsar binning mode. See the CABB webpage for more details. CABB mode changes are mostly routine, except for changes to the 1MHz zoom mode, 64 MHz zoom mode, and hybrid mode, which require approximately one hour: this mode change is done by local staff or suitably trained others. In the graphical version of the schedule the requested CABB mode is shown in the top right corner of each block. The mode "1M*" designates those proposals which requested a different mode (usually the 64MHz mode) but without justification, and so they have been allocated the 1MHz (no zooms) mode.

Millimetre Swap Projects: Where possible, a 7mm or 3mm project may be partnered with a later block of time allocated to a cm project, or unallocated time, so that the two can be swapped in the event of poor weather for the mm program. A list of indentified "mm swaps" will be made available shortly.

NAPA Proposals: A number of NAPA (Non A Priori Assignable) proposals have been submitted for ATCA in 2016OCT. If triggered, a NAPA proposal may displace a proposal with a lower grade. Displaced observations will be rescheduled if possible, but this is not guaranteed.

Leap Second: A leap second will be introduced at 0UT on January 1st (10am AEDT). Two hours have been blocked out in the schedule to allow staff to make the necessary changes to observatory software.

Daylight Saving: Daylight saving in New South Wales will start at 2:00am (AEST) on Sunday, 2nd October 2016, when clocks will be put forward one hour. During the daylight saving period, local "clock time" (AEDT) is one hour ahead of AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time), so 7am AEST is 8am AEDT. Note that the ATCA schedule is in AEST. Daylight saving in New South Wales will end at 3:00am (AEDT) on the first Sunday in April 2017.

Public Holidays: Monday October 3rd is a public holiday in NSW. Sunday December 25th, Monday December 26th and Tuesday December 27th are public holidays in NSW. Sunday January 1st and Monday January 2nd are public holidays in NSW. Thursday January 26th is the Australia Day public holiday. Easter is in April (14th to 17th) in 2017.

Version history: Version 1 of the schedule was released on 2016 September 2nd.

Generated: Phil Edwards (02-sep-2016)