SMARTS Consortium
ANDICAM and CTIO 1.3m Telescope
Phase II Observing Program Submission Form Instructions

Once you have created a set of Observation Template files ("obs files") for all of your program targets, you use the Phase II Submission Form to submit them to the SMARTS 1.3m telescope queue for implementation along with a set of detailed instructions for how to execute your observing program.

You should try to submit one set of observing instructions for all targets that are ready to be implemented for your project. This is meant to keep things simple. If you submit many separate files, it gets complicated and your observations will be delayed while we sort things out.

A Phase II program submission consists of two parts:

  1. A text file with your observing instructions and the list of obs files to be executed. This file is stored on this server in your project's working directory and send by email and ftp to the queue manager. This forms the basis of the queue manager's nightly instructions to the observers at CTIO. Your instructions should be as complete and explicit as possible (see the examples below).

  2. Copies of the obs files and multi-observation scripts (if used) that you have marked for submission are uploaded to the ftp staging disk for eventual uploading to the data-taking computer at CTIO for execution by the on-site observers.

On submitting your program electronically with the forms provided here, you can expect 3 kinds of feedback:
  1. A web page showing a summary of the submission as soon as your submission is completed.

  2. A automated "confirmation" email message sent by the server when your program submission files have been successfully copied to the staging disk and the observing instructions emailed to the queue management team. Depending on network delays, this should arrive within a few minutes or so of your submission.

If there are any problems with your program, the queue management team will get in contact with questions, otherwise your program will begin to be worked into the schedule for implementation.

Phase II Submission Form Entries

The Phase II Submission Form requests the following information:

Your Name

Enter your name and institution in the "Submitted by" box. The default value is the name you entered when you logged into to the observing preparation tools. This tells us who submitted the program, and so who to contact in case of problems. In general, this should be the project PI or their designate.

Your Email Address

Enter your full email address in the "Email" box. This tells how to get in touch with you to confirm your Phase II program submission and sort out any remaining details or submission problems. It also ensures that you receive an email copy of the program instructions submitted for your records.

Program Instructions

In the box provided, please write a detailed set of instructions for your observing program. For each target, describe what observations are to be made, which obs files are to be used (and how), the approximate brightness of the target, and the location of any finding charts to be used (e.g., an ftp address where it can be downloaded), etc. These instructions should be brief, clear, and to the point.

If your program is for a large number of targets that are to use multi-target obs files executed by means of a set of one or more multi-observation scripts, you must submit a complete target list with coordinates along with your Phase II submission, or at least provide a valid URL lising a Web or ftp site where this may be downloaded. Your target list and your instructions must specify clearly which objects are to be observed using which script(s).

Examples of program instructions are given below.

Observation Template (Obs) Files

You are presented with a list of all currently "active" obs files found in your project's directory on the server. To the left of the name of each obs file is a check box. Check off only the files that are to be used for the program you are submitting. These files will be copied to the ftp staging disk for eventual uploading to the data-taking computer at CTIO.

If any old or defunct obs files appear in this list, you might want to take a moment when your submission is complete and clean up your project's obs file directory using the Obs File Manager Form provided among the observing preparation tools.

Multi-Observation Scripts

You are presented with a list of all multi-observation scripts that were found in your project's directory on the server. To the left of the name of each script is a check box. Check off only the scripts that are to be used for the program you are submitting. These files will be copied to the ftp staging disk for eventual uploading to the data-taking computer at CTIO.

Note that if you are submitting a set of multi-target obs files, you are required to submit a multi-observation script to execute them. See Creating Multi-Observation Scripts for details.

Once you have filled in the form, clicking on the Submit Observing Program button will start the electronic submission process.


The astronomer who creates the obs files and submits the Phase II observing program is responsible for providing valid target names and celestial coordinates. They are also responsible for providing ephemerides for solar system targets that are not already in the 1.3m telescope's control computer (i.e., ephemerides for major planets are pre-loaded into the telescope controller, minor planets and comets are not). Neither the queue manager nor the on-site observers will enter, validate or correct target names or coordinates. Although if there are problems with your coordinates, the queue manager will be in touch.

Example Program Instructions

Example 1: New Observing Program (Simple)

This is a set of instructions for a program to observe 47 Tucanae using the dual CCD/IR mode of ANDICAM. For this project, 5 obs files have been prepared (named tucik, tucvk, tucbh, tucuk, and tucuh).

Instructions are as follows:

1) Go to coords given and execute
   The object title here should be 47Tuc #1

2) If the moon is down execute
   Object title 47 Tuc #1

3) offset dec +00:04:00 and repeat the above two steps with the
   object title 47 Tuc #2

Example 2: On-Going Project Update

This is a Phase II submission seeking to add 2 new targets to an on-going program:

Please add these two targets to our observing program, as follows:

MB99007 - RA=12:13:14.5 DEC=-22:33:44 (2000.0)
          obs file: mb99007ih, dual IR/CCD images
          MB99007 is a high-amplification microlensing event
          approaching peak brightness during the next 2 weeks.  
          It should be observed with high priority at least once per
          hour until further notice.  Current brightness is
          V=14, I=13.  A finder chart is on anonymous ftp at

MB99008 - RA=13:14:15.6 DEC=-33:44:55 (2000.0)
          obs file: mb99008ih - dual IR/CCD imaging at I andH
          Long-timescale event, should be monitored at least
          once a night.  Do not observe if there is heavy 
          cirrus as the target is faint (currently V=19).
          A finder chart is on anonymous ftp at:


In this example, the astronomer has provided GIF finding charts at the URL given. In this form, the observers can use Netscape on the data-taking computer to download and display the finding charts by entering the URL:
This feature of the web can make it easy for you to provide finders to the on-site observers using your own ftp or web servers as appropriate.

Example 3: New Survey-Type Project

This is a Phase II submission for a program to observe 50 targets in "survey mode" (each target only observed once). For this program, the astronomer has created a set of generic observing templates for short and long exposure sequences, as follows:

where xx is various filter combinations (e.g., ih, vh, rj, etc.)

To execute these, they have created 2 multi-observation scripts, as follows:
which execute each of the respective obs files. The Phase II instructions would look something like this. The instructions are more long and involved because the project is:

Our program is to observe 50 2MASS-selected halo subdwarfs in the
UBVRI and JHK filter bands.    Each target is to be observed only

The target list is available online at this Web URL:

The targets are divided into two sets, those requiring long or short
exposure times.  Each set of exposure times is executed using
the following 5 multi-target obs files:



The short sequence is executed using the multi-observation script, and requires about 300sec to execute.

The long sequence is executed using, which requires about
650 seconds to execute.

Each script prompts for the target name, please use the name given on
the target list.

Finding charts for the targets may be found at this Web URL:


In this example, the astronomer has provided the target list and finding charts on their website, and given the full web URLs for each. The program has clearly specified that it must only be executed in photometric conditions.

The queue manager will verify that both URLs work, and download your target list. If the astronomer changes the target list *after* the queue team downloads it, those changes will be missed! If the target list changes, a new phase II submission must be made to inform the queue management team. Also, if your targets have priorities (i.e., some are more important than others), your target list must state this clearly, otherwise all targets will be considered equal in scheduling.

Note also that, as a courtesy, the astronomer making this submission has tried to estimate the amount of time required to execute each of the multi-observation scripts. This estimate is based on looking at the execution times in each of the relevant obs files and adding them up. The queue management team has more sophisticated estimation algorithms available that include setup and other overheads, and will make an independent estimate. If the estimates are very discrepant, they will contact the astronomer and try to resolve the discrepancies before the program is scheduled for operation.

Updated: 2006 May 11 [rwp/osu]