By Heidi Schweiker
Edited By Hillary Mathis


Latest updates
PDF version of the February 2011 manual (2.5Mb)

Telescope Operations

   Location of the 0.9m Telescope
   Safety Walk-through
   Safety Interlocks
   Filling the Dewar
   The Dome Cameras
   The Exhaust Fan
   The Wind Screen
   The Dry Air System
   Dome Vent Operation
   Startup Checklist
   Shutdown Checklist
   Overview of the TCS
   Starting Up the TCS
   Telescope Park Positions
   Importing Coordinate Catalogs
   Aquiring an Object
   Small Telescope Motions
   Moving the Dome
   TCS/Instrument Communication
   Checking the Weather
   Data Acquisition Computers
   Checking and Zeroing Pointing
   Changing Filters with S2KB
   Dome Flats
   Guiding with Mosaic
   Guiding with S2KB
   Automated CCD Log
   S2KB Information
   WIYN 0.9m/S2KB FAQs
   The MOSAIC Manual

Troubleshooting Tips
Startup Checklist
Shutdown Checklist
End of Run Checklist


   Lightning Shutdown Procedures
   Extended Horizon Map
   Additional S2KB Information
   The KPFILT script
   More on the Mosaic Guider
   A Unix Cheatsheet
   An IRAF Cheatsheet
   An SFTP Cheatsheet
   An EMACS CheatSheet
   An Vi CheatSheet
   A Guide to Taking Sky Flats
   Dewar Filling Tips and Tricks
   Taking a Seeing Measurement

Other Useful References

   0.9m User's Manual
   ICE Observing Manual
   Direct Imaging Manual
   The MOSAIC Manual





The ACE TCS program runs via the computer named Olive, a Windows XP machine. The autoguider runs on a dual boot Windows/Linux computer named Moss where Linux is the OS used when Mosaic is in use and Windows is the OS when S2KB is in use.

The TCS (Telescope Control System) is a Windows based system. Dome and Telescope status are on the left. Time and date stamps such as UT date, Sidereal time and current RA and Dec are all displayed on the right side. The center of the screen is where the coordinate catalogs will load. Below the coordinate catalog area is a field with RA, Offset, and HA tabs at the top. This is where you enter coordinates and offsets. The Go To button is self-explanatory - it will send the telescope to the coordinates in the boxes above. This Go To button will change to a Cancel Slew button when the telescope is slewing, and back to the Go To button when the slew is completed. The Stop button is an emergency stop button. It will stop all axes (ra, dec, focus, dome, etc).

The main toolbar is at the top of the window. It contains pulldown menus such as User, Setup, Dome, etc. The menus you will use most frequently are Dome, Telescope, and User. Shortcut buttons are available for frequently used tasks such as moving the telescope to the Zenith park position. These buttons are blue and located on the main toolbar just below the pulldown menus. You can find out what each button does by holding the mouse over a button. A short description of the button also appears at the bottom of the window.


At the end of every night the observer should log off and exit the ACE TCS program. This will disallow anyone from operating the telescope from the TCS. When you show up to the telescope in the afternoon, if the program does not appear to be running you will need to start it before you can do anything. Check on the bottom of the screen to make sure the program or the socket server is not currently running (you would see an icon entitled ACE RCS and/or Socket Server if it was). If it isn't you can bring up a new one. To open it double-click on the "Ace" Icon on the desktop on Olive. You can also bring up the program via the Start menu:
Start => Programs => Ace => Ace

The login and password are on the white board under "ACE TCS". The telescope drives energize when you open up the ACE TCS program. No initialization of the telescope is needed at the beginning of the night.


There are four programmed telescope park positions that will move the telescope to common positions and turn the telescope tracking off: Zenith park, Dome flat park, Mirror cover park, and the Stow position. Before moving the telescope to any of these positions the safety walk-through must be performed to ensure it is safe to move the telescope.

To move the telescope to one of these positions select Telescope from the main toolbar. Send the telescope to the desired park position by selecting one of the options.

Zenith Park The Zenith park position will send the telescope to zenith and turn the telescope tracking off. The telescope should be left at zenith at the end of each night.

Dome Flat Park The Dome Flat park position will send the telescope to a Dec of +13 and an HA of 3:28. It will also send the dome to the appropriate azimuth for taking flats.

Mirror Cover Park The Mirror Cover park position will send the telescope to an HA of -4:00 and a Dec of +85 and turn the telescope tracking off. Mirror cover operation is manual at the 0.9m. You will need to move the telescope to this position in order to be able to remove or replace the mirror cover.

Stow Telescope The Stow position is identical to the Zenith park position. It will send the telescope to zenith and turn the telescope tracking off.



Any text file that is column delimited can be imported into the ACE TCS, regardless of format.

Note: All coordinates must have the same epoch.

Importing a catalog

First you must transfer your cache, in text format, to Olive. To import a catalog select the Tool Kit pulldown menu and select Import Catalog. This opens the Import Catalog program where you can manipulate the spacing in your file to the appropriate TCS format.

Catalog Import Tool

Click on Open Catalog and select your file. Enter the RA and Dec of the first object in your catalog exactly as it appears. You will also need to note an Epoch - you can select the J2000.00 default or enter a different one. If you've included magnitudes and proper motions in your catalog you'll need to also enter those exactly as they appear for your first object. Once you've entered the above information click on Process and you should see your processed catalog appear on the right. Edit the original file or modify your entries in this Catalog Import Wizard until you are satisfied with the result. Click on Save Catalog and then open your catalog within the TCS to see that it has indeed been processed correctly.

Add/Replace and Delete buttons

The Add/Replace and Delete buttons (located on the RA coordinate entry tab) allow you to modify the currently loaded catalog. Delete will remove the currently selected object from the catalog. The Add button allows you to add the current target to the currently loaded catalog. The Replace button will allow you to modify the currently selected object.


Accessing a cache:
From anywhere on the TCS click the right mouse button. Select "Open Existing Database". The caches are stored in the following path:
ACE Control System (D:) => ACE => CurrentRelease
The caches all have .cat extensions. Double click on the appropriate cache. They should load into the center area of the TCS. You can sort the cache by field by clicking on the top of the column. To send coordinates to the TCS double-click on the object.

Once you have loaded the star into the fields click the green "GoTo" button. A confirmation box will pop up with your coordinates listed. Check the coordinates carefully to be sure they are valid coordinates - check the HA, secz, Dec, etc. If these look correct select "Move Telescope". When the telescope starts to move the "GoTo" button will turn into a "Cancel Slew" button. Two status bars will also appear above this button - one for the RA and one for the Dec. You have reached the target when the green "GoTo" button comes back and the status bars read "Locked on Target".

Don't forget to turn on your dome tracking.


If you need to jog the telescope to center up on your object you can either type in offsets into the offset window just below the coordinate catalog area or you can use the black jog buttons on the ACE Soft Pad, the software handpaddle. To enter offsets click on the "Offset" tab and enter your offsets in the appropriate boxes. You can enter either arcseconds or seconds and arcseconds by selecting the appropriate units in the pulldown box to the right. Click on "GoTo" to move the telescope. The underlined zero to the left of the entry boxes is a button that allows you to clear any entries.

The ACE Soft Pad is a software handpaddle. This comes up automatically when you log in. You can also bring it up by clicking on the dark blue "SoftPAD" button on the toolbar, or by selecting Telescope => Soft Paddle on the main toolbar.

ACE SoftPad


Moving the dome under computer control

Although the dome can be controlled either via computer control or manually from the control panel on the platform, throughout the night you will want to use the dome tracking program (AutoDome) to keep the dome slit aligned with the telescope. To turn dome tracking on, on the TCS select Dome=> AutoDome. A box will pop up asking you to confirm turning dome tracking on.

You can also send the dome to a specific azimuth. On the ACE TCS select Dome => Azimuth. A box will pop up noting the current dome azimuth. Below the current azimuth is a box where you can enter a desired azimuth. Enter the az and click on Move Dome.

To turn the dome tracking off at the end of the night, select Dome => AutoDome and confirm that you do want to turn the tracking off.

Moving the dome via the control panel

When setting up to do dome flats, it's a good idea to check the alignment of the white spot and telescope. You may need to bump the dome in one direction to more precisely align them. Manual dome control is possible via the control panel in the dome. The "Left" button will move the dome counter-clockwise, and the "Right" button will move the dome clockwise.

You can also move the dome via the hand paddle. The hand paddle is located on the chain railing near the LN2 hose. The dome rotation buttons are on the left top-side of the hand paddle. The left button turns the dome counter-clockwise and the right button turns in clockwise.

Note: There is an interlock on the dome that will not allow you to quickly switch directions. If you move the dome Left you will need to wait 20 seconds before trying to move the dome Right and vice versa.

The system that rotates the dome, to align the dome slit with the telescope does not performed optimally. As a result, occasionally, part of the telescope beam may be occulted by the dome. There appears to be both a systematic and random component to these errors. Anyone doing all-sky photometry should check the dome/telescope alignment after every slew by going to the telescope floor, stand behind the telescope, and sight along the tube. Move your eye around the entire "circle" of the back of the telescope and find the two places where the dome is closest to the cylindrical beam of the telescope. If it is occulting, move it using either the control panel or the handpaddle. See the above paragraph for further instructions on using the handpaddle.

Opening/Closing the dome shutter

Before opening or closing the dome shutter make sure that either the mirror cover is on or the telescope is titled over (e.g. at the white spot) to prevent junk from falling onto the mirror.

You should only operate the dome shutter from the control panel upstairs. To operate it from the control panel push and hold the appropriate button (open or close) until the limit switches are hit and the motors turn off.

See the Troubleshooting Tips section if you are having trouble moving the dome.


We currently need to manually setup the communication between the instrument control computer and the TCS. This will allow pertinent telescope telemetry to be placed into the image headers.

On Olive:

Socket Server GUI

  • The ACE Socket Server starts whenever the ACE TCS is brought up. Make sure another Socket Server is not running before starting the program. (It may be minimized on the bottom toolbar).
  • If one is not running, from the main toolbar on the ACE TCS select Network => Start Socket Server.
  • A smaller window will pop up and should read

VNC Viewer Desktop on Emerald

On Emerald :

  • Select VNC GWC Taupe from the background menu.
  • The GWC desktop window above should pop up with 2 windows in it: Taupe GWC GWC Router, and an xterm. If no windows are open, first check to see they are not open on another desktop. If there are no windows open on any of the desktops then they can be opened by right-clicking the background and selecting the appropriate item.
  • In the xterm window you should see streams of numbers (no words) streaming by. If so, the TCS/Instrument connection is up.
  • If nothing is streaming by, check to see if the ITCS program is running (if it is running you should get a itcs> prompt).
  • If you see a taupe% prompt instead of the itcs> prompt type the following at the taupe% prompt:    start-itcs
  • This will start the ITCS program. You should see a lot of information streaming by. Near the bottom you should see "connect: Connected to host olive port..."
  • In your Socket Server window on Olive you should now see "Connected"
  • At the itcs> prompt type timer 1500 when using Mosaic or timer 5000 when using S2KB
  • Again at the itcs> prompt type tcs
    • A stream of numbers should be returned.
    • On Olive you should see "TelData". If so the Instrument/TCS connection is up.
    • The stream of numbers should keep scrolling by every 1.5 or 5 seconds depending on which instrument is in use.

    When using Mosaic, a good check to see if the TCS/Instrument connection is indeed alive is to check the TCS status on the MCCD Configuration GUI. If there is a green check mark beside the words TCS then the link is alive. If instead there is a red X, then the connection needs to be restarted.

See the TCS/Instrument Communication Troubleshooting Flow Chart if you are having problems.

If you continue to have problems with the communications you can set a parameter in telpars on your Data Acquisition computer that ignores this connection. If you set this parameter you will not have the pertinent information in your headers. Type telpars in your Data Acquisition window on Taupe. Enter test in the telescope field. To return to automatically getting this information into your headers, enter kp09m in the telescope field.

TCS/Instrument Communications Troubleshooting Flowchart

TCS/Instrument Communication Troubleshooting Flow Chart

Last updated September 5, 2008