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Duty Astronomer Role

Summary of duties

The primary responsibility of the Duty Astronomer is to ensure the safety of the Compact Array.

The primary responsibility of the Observer is to look to the integrity of their data.

However, duty astronomers will provide advice and support to observers, they should be able to:

  • assist observers set up the Compact Array at the start of an observing run
  • diagnose and attempt to solve problems that arise in the course of the observations.
    Note: The Duty Astronomer is not expected to solve every problem and should know how to contact further support when necessary.

With some exceptions (see the DA Role document for more information), the duty astronomer should be on site at Marsfield and contactable during their Duty Astronomer week.

Once an observing run has started the Duty Astronomer is under no obligation to observe although he/she will provide assistance if a problem occurs. During normal daytime working hours operations staff are also available to provide the front-line assistance.

Duty Astronomers based in Sydney, should discuss the coming week's observing with operations staff towards the end of the week before their DA week. For DAs coming from outside Sydney, this briefing should be done as soon in their week as practical.

Duty Astronomer duties normally start at 10am on the first day of their week, and finish at 11am the following week.

Observing is the most efficient way to develop most of the skills required to be DA, but it is also useful to spend time with another DA and operations staff. Check the DA Checklist for issues that a Duty Astronomer should be able to address.

Emergency and semi-emergency situations

The on-call person, or operations staff member should be notified at any time if the observer or duty astronomer becomes aware of cryogenics failures, drive failures, complete power loss/generator failure, air conditioning failure or equipment overtemperature, serious personal injury or fire.

Fire and primary monitor alarms are triggers by many of these emergency situations, with alarms sounding in the house of the on-call person so they should be aware of many of these situations. However, the Duty Astronomer should endevour to contact the on call person to ensure that the situation is being addressed.

(See here for old DA Duty statement.)


Original: Jessica Chapman (29-May-1997)
Modified: Robin Wark (15-Mar-2015)