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ATCA Users Guide

Jamie Stevens

ATCA Senior Systems Scientist
ATCA Lead Scientist
ATCA Users Guide Editor
CSIRO Space & Astronomy

    +61 2 6790 4064

Robin Wark

Operations Manager
CSIRO Space & Astronomy


Phil Edwards

ATNF Science Program Director
CSIRO Space & Astronomy

    +61 2 9372 4717

Shari Breen

Interim Head of Science Operations
SKA Observatory


Karen Lee-Waddell

Australian SKA Regional Centre Director


Jane Kaczmarek

Postdoctoral Fellow


George Heald

Senior Principal Research Scientist
CSIRO Space and Astronomy

    +61 8 6436 8758

Table of Contents

1. Read this First
2. Latest Changes
3. Conventions
1. The Australia Telescope Compact Array
1.1. The Australia Telescope National Facility
1.2. Overview of the ATCA
1.2.1. Array configurations
1.2.2. Design and Operation of the ATCA
1.2.3. Signal Path
1.2.4. Sensitivity and System Temperature
1.2.5. Online Calibration
1.2.6. CABB Correlator
1.3. Choosing an Observing Frequency
1.3.1. Available Frequency Range
1.3.2. Interference
1.4. Choosing Angular and Frequency Resolution
1.4.1. Image Complexity, Angular Resolution and Observing Time
1.4.2. Array Configurations and Baselines
1.4.3. Bandwidths and correlator
1.5. Centimetre Observations (16–4 cm bands)
1.5.1. Calibration
1.5.2. Sensitivity Calculations
1.6. Millimetre-wave observations (15mm–3mm)
1.6.1. 15mm Observations
1.6.2. 7mm Observations
1.6.3. 3mm Observations
1.6.4. Procedure for mm observations
1.7. Additional Observing Notes and Techniques
1.7.1. Short Observations
1.7.2. Polarimetry
1.7.3. Mosaicking
1.7.4. Multi-frequency Synthesis
1.7.5. Reference Pointing
1.8. High Time Resolution, Pulsars, Planets and VLBI
1.8.1. High Time Resolution and Pulsar Observing
1.8.2. Solar System Objects
1.8.3. Tied Array Mode
1.9. Other Things to Consider
1.9.1. Confusion
1.9.2. Weather
1.9.3. Artefacts
1.10. Submitting a proposal
1.11. Successful Proposals and Observing
1.11.1. The Duty Astronomer
1.11.2. NAPAs, ToOs and over-riding observations
2. Preparing for Observations
2.1. Observational Sensitivity
2.1.1. How long is my source up per day?
2.1.2. Is it possible to tune my observing frequencies to obtain optimal sensitivity?
2.1.3. How can I avoid RFI?
2.2. Calibration
2.2.1. What type of calibration do I need to do?
2.2.2. What sources can be used for delay calibration?
2.2.3. How do I calibrate the bandpass response of the antennas?
2.2.4. How do I calibrate the flux density of my observations?
2.2.5. How do I best calibrate the time-varying gains?
2.2.6. What do I need to do for polarisation calibration?
2.2.7. When is pointing calibration required?
2.2.8. When is paddle calibration required?
2.3. Scheduling your observations
2.3.1. What is meant by “schedule”?
2.3.2. How do I best observe if I want to image compact sources?
2.3.3. How do I best image a source with a large angular extent, or a wide field region?
2.3.4. How do I schedule a mosaic observation?
2.3.5. How do I best map regions of spectral line emission?
2.3.6. Are there limits to the frequencies I can observe?
2.3.7. Can I change between frequencies during my observations?
2.3.8. How do I observe a planet in our Solar System?
2.3.9. How do I observe a minor object in our Solar System?
2.3.10. What are the antenna “wraps”?
2.3.11. How do I prepare a schedule file?
2.3.12. Could I see an example continuum schedule file?
2.3.13. Could I see an example spectral-line schedule file?
2.4. Running a schedule
2.4.1. How can I calculate how much data will be produced?
2.4.2. How can I quickly determine how much data will be produced?
2.4.3. Do I have to do the observations myself?
2.4.4. Can I do my observations from my home institution?
2.5. Rapid Response Mode
2.5.1. Who can use the rapid response mode?
2.5.2. How does the rapid response mode work?
2.5.3. Can I over-ride any scheduled block?
2.5.4. How can I make a schedule file automatically?
2.5.5. What is this authorisation token that I need?
2.5.6. But how do I make a request?
2.5.7. How can I find out what the service is doing?
2.5.8. What is the recommended strategy for a rapid response schedule?
2.5.9. How does the service shorten my schedule?
2.6. Pre-observation Checklist
3. Observing
3.1. Connect to the array control systems
3.2. Changeover
3.3. Setting up
3.3.1. Focus
3.3.2. Setting Power Levels into CABB Samplers
3.3.3. Set CABB Channel Range for Calibration and Monitoring
3.3.4. Checking Delavg
3.3.5. Flagging Channels
3.3.6. Array Calibration
3.4. Observing
3.4.1. Calibration
3.5. Array Monitoring
3.5.1. Wind Stows
3.5.2. Storm Stows
3.5.3. Heat Stows
3.5.4. Weather Monitoring
3.5.5. Audible Alarms
3.5.6. Troubleshooting
3.6. Unattended Observing
3.6.1. Unattended Observing - Definition
3.6.2. Observatory Expectations
3.6.3. Alarm notification during unattended observing
3.7. Key Contact Numbers
4. After your Observations
4.1. Archiving Your Data
4.1.1. Laptop
4.1.2. Online Archive
4.1.3. Remote Copy
4.2. Report Your Experiences
4.3. Data Analysis
4.3.1. Software Choices
4.3.2. Miriad
4.4. Publishing Results
4.4.1. ATNF Acknowledgements
A. caobs reference
A.1. Using caobs
A.1.1. caobs Commands
B. cacor reference
B.1. cacor Status Panel
B.2. cacor Data Panel
B.3. cacor Timing Panel
B.4. cacor Log Panel
B.5. cacor Command Panel
B.6. cacor Commands
B.7. Changing Correlator Configs
B.8. Changing to 1MHz, No Zooms
B.9. Changing to 64MHz Zooms
B.9.1. 64MHz Zoom Calibration
B.10. Changing to Hybrid Config (1MHz Continuum and 64MHz Zoom Mode)
B.10.1. 64MHz Zoom/Continuum Hybrid Calibration
B.11. Changing to Pulsar Binned mode
B.12. Changing to 1MHz Zooms
B.13. CABB issues
C. SPD reference
C.1. Introduction to SPD
C.2. SPD Commands
D. vis
D.1. VIS Commands
E. MoniCA
E.1. Introduction to MoniCA
E.2. Installing MoniCA
E.3. Using MoniCA
F. Web Scheduler
F.1. Scheduler Fields
F.1.1. Fields in the Simple View
F.1.2. Fields in the Advanced View
F.1.3. Fields in the Frequency Setups
F.2. Scheduler Actions
F.2.1. Scheduler buttons
F.2.2. Scheduler menus
G. Observatory Coordinates
G.1. Site Location
G.1.1. Cartesian Coordinates
G.1.2. Geodetic Coordinates on WGS84
G.1.3. Coordinates on AGD84
G.1.4. Station Locations
H. ATCA Configurations
H.1. Array Configurations
H.2. Shadowing Diagrams