Observing time on the 9.2-m effective aperture Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory was available to the astronomical community through the NOAO proposal process from 2000B-2008A.
All observations through the Public Access Program were queue-scheduled, and proposals from the national community were merged into the HET queue. Because the observations were queue-scheduled, the number of equivalent nights available was ~16 clear nights per year, after allowing for an historical 62.4% spectroscopic hours at McDonald Observatory and for an allocated portion of unscheduled downtime. Public Access time was distributed over the phases of the moon and the seasons of the year in the same proportion as the scientific observations scheduled for the staffs of the HET's parent institutions.
The current agreement, which made HET available for general community access from 2000-2008, will expire at the end of 2008A. Community access will not be available starting with the 2008B semester. If access is once again available in some future semester, it will be announced to the community and details will be updated on this page.
The instrumentation suite of the HET now includes low, medium, and high resolution spectrometers (LRS, MRS, and HRS).
The prime focus Marcario Low Resolution Spectrometer (LRS, PI Gary Hill; CCD PI Phillip MacQueen; McDonald Observatory) is a grism spectrometer with imaging, long slit, and multi-object capability. (Multi-object capability is expected to become available soon.) The field of view is 4 arcminutes in diameter. Two grisms are currently available: grism 1 covers 415 to 1010 nm at R~550 and grism 2 covers 430 to 730 nm at R~1300. Resolutions are quoted for a 1.0 arcsec wide slit. Slit widths of 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 3.0, and 10.0 arcsec by 4 arcmin long are available. The CCD is a Ford Aerospace 3072x1024 device with 15 micron pixels, and the image scale is ~0.25 arcsecond per pixel.
A remotely configurable Multi-Object Spectroscopy slitlet unit is available for LRS. It is set up using a configuration file uploaded before the observation. The unit is described in Wolf et al. (2000) Proc. SPIE Vol. 4008, p. 216-227. There are 13 slitlets each about 15 arcsec long by 1.3 arcsec wide on 20 arcsec centers. They can cover 4 arcminutes in the cross-dispersion direction (along the slits) by about 3 arcmin. in the dispersion direction (perpendicular to the slits).
The current performance characteristics of the LRS will be updated as they are refined.
The multi-fiber-fed Medium Resolution Spectrometer (MRS, PI Larry Ramsey, Pennsylvania State University) will be available to the community during the 2003B semester. An introduction to this instrument's capabilities was published in the March 2003 issue of the NOAO Newsletter and a more detailed description of the instrument can be found in Ramsey et al.'s 2002 SPIE paper.
During a December 2002 commissioning run, an 1800-second exposure during poor image quality (EE50=2-3 arcsec) yielded S/N=100 per pixel spectra with a limiting magnitude of mR~13.8 at R=7000 (1.5" fiber) and mR~14.2 at R=5000 (2" fiber). Performance updates will be given on the HET website as they become available.
The fiber-fed High Resolution Spectrometer (HRS, PI Robert Tull; CCD PI Phillip MacQueen; McDonald Observatory) is a single channel adaptation of the ESO UVES spectrometer. The HRS uses an R-4 echelle mosaic with cross-dispersing gratings to separate spectral orders. An all-refracting camera images onto a mosaic of two thinned and anti-reflection coated 2k x 4k CCDs with 15 micron pixels. The CCDs are abutted along their 4k side with an ~69 pixel dead space between them. This dead space is approximately parallel to the spectral orders. Resolving powers of R ~ 15,000; 30,000; 60,000; and 120,000 are available by means of four effective slit widths. Spectral coverage is 410 - 1090 nm. See the HRS page for further information.
Performance characteristics of the HRS will be updated as they are refined.
Successful investigators must complete HET Phase II target tables. NOAO staff will verify the completion of these Phase II tables and forward the targets to the HET staff who will carry out the observations.
Data will be forwarded to NOAO by the HET staff for distribution to investigators. As soon as the data are available, the principal investigator will be notified that he/she can obtain the data by FTP from the NOAO distribution site. All data obtained under this program may also be placed in NOAO's Save-the-Bits program under the same rules as data obtained at NOAO telescopes.
Dave Bell serves as staff contact for investigators planning proposals for observing at the HET. Please direct proposal questions specific to the HET telescope and its instruments to him at email@example.com. Please do not send questions directly to HET staff.
Investigators will be requested to provide an assessment of their HET observations and of the quality of their data to NOAO. Those assessments will be provided to the HET.
Publications resulting from observations obtained through this Public Access program should include the following as a footnote on the title page: "Based on observations obtained with the Marcario Low Resolution Spectrograph on the Hobby - Eberly Telescope, which is operated by McDonald Observatory on behalf of the University of Texas at Austin, the Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universitaet, Munich, and the George-August-Universitaet, Goettingen. Public Access time is available on the Hobby - Eberly Telescope through an agreement with the National Science Foundation."