ATNF observing support & observer training

Overview

The ATNF observing model requires that proposal teams provide the observers for their projects. Observers may be trained remotely and observe remotely. There is no requirement to visit an ATNF site.

Optionally, observers may choose to attend the Marsfield (Sydney) or Kensington (Perth) Science Operations Centres for their observations. Observers may visit the Australia Telescope Compact Array at Narrabri, if arrangements are made in advance. For all of these optional observing visits, please register in advance via this webpage.

Each project is supported by an Observing Expert, who can solve or escalate technical issues, and provide expert advice to the project team. 

Parkes & ATCA

Observer Training Requirements & Registration:

New observers are required to complete basic online training for the telescope on which they will observe. This teaches the fundamentals of interacting with the telescope systems. New observers are not permitted to register as Observer In Charge until this basic training has been completed.

Observers with prior experience are welcome to participate in basic online training, and this is particularly encouraged for those who have not observed in some time. However, there is no formal training requirement. Observers with prior experience may register as Observer In Charge regardless of whether they have attended a recent training session.

Training format & registration: Required offline viewing and reading followed by attendance at a scheduled live session (available on a monthly cadence). To access training materials and signup, please visit the ATCA or Murriyang/Parkes signup pages.

Observing Expert:

Every project is supported by a dedicated Observing Expert (OE). The default mode for this support is online/remote.

The OE is either:

  • an expert member of the project team (teams are encouraged to self-nominate an OE in OPAL when they submit their proposal), or;
  • an ATNF staff member assigned to support the project.
     

The OE is expected to:

  • Discuss expectations, strategies and requirements with the team prior to observations.
  • Assist the team with scheduling and observing planning if required.
  • Assist the team with observing start-up if required.
  • Provide project-specific advice/training to observers if required.
  • Provide expert support during observations if required.
  • Be the first point of contact for technical issues during observations.
     

The OE is not a telescope operator. There is no expectation the OE will observe for a team.

All OEs will receive training and certification from the National Facility prior to the start of the observing semester.

See also: detailed description of the role and responsibilities of the OE.

LBA

Observer Training Requirements:

New observers are required to complete the basic ATCA and Parkes outlined above, in addition to a dedicated LBA training session.

Observers with prior experience are welcome to participate in the training sessions, and this is particularly encouraged for those who have not observed in some time.

Training format & registration:

  • Parkes & ATCA training: Required offline viewing and reading followed by attendance at a scheduled live session (available on a monthly cadence). To access training materials and signup, please visit the Parkes/Murriyang or ATCA Eventbrite pages.
  • Dedicated LBA training: This will be run in an ad-hoc manner during scheduled LBA sessions, on an as-needed basis. Observers must indicate their need for training at least 1 month before their observations commence, by contacting Phil Edwards at Philip.Edwards [at] csiro.au.

Observing Expert:

An LBA OE is expected to follow the same requirements as Parkes/ATCA OEs, with the following differences:

  • There is no expectation the OEs will setup telescopes or perform fringe testing (this will be done by ATNF staff).
  • The expected observing “proficiency” will be lower, with ATNF staff available to help resolve any problems occurring during an observation.
  • ATNF staff will be able to assist with scheduling issues which the OE cannot resolve themselves.
  • ATNF staff will handle all data correlation steps, unless arranged with PI before observations.
     

Note that the LBA OE will support Parkes, ATCA and Mopra (where relevant for the telescopes being used). There will not be a separate Parkes or ATCA OE supporting those telescopes during LBA observations.

Key information for 2024OCTS

In 2024APRS, teams may self-support by naming a co-I as OE, ONLY if that person is already an experienced observer on the instrument. In general this would mean that they have amassed a large number of hours on the instrument and/or have observed (or been an OE) within the last 24 months. OEs must be confident in (a) scheduling, (b) observing, (c) recognising, solving and appropriately escalating technical issues. If in doubt about whether they are qualified to self-nominate, teams should contact Jamie Stevens (ATCA, jamie.stevens [at] csiro.au), Stacy Mader (Parkes, stacy.mader [at] csiro.au) or Phil Edwards (LBA, philip.edwards [at] csiro.au) to discuss, or request a National Facility staff member as Observing Expert.

In future semesters, teams may be able to nominate less experienced members as OE, who will receive appropriate training and certification for the role.

 

For further information contact George Heald, Program Director for ATNF Science (george.heald [at] csiro.au).

 

Last modified: 10-may-2024

 

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