Start of night checklist

Ask for release

Normally, the instrument will remain released to the observers at all times. If the instrument is not released, this implies work is taking place in or around the spectrograph, such that it is not in a suitable mode for use by observers.

The telescope should be released by the telescope technicians as part of their daily procedures before 2PM Pacific time. If the telescope has not been released by this time, e-mail should be sent to to request the release of the APF telescope.

Connect to the APF VNC sessions

Any Lick Observatory remote observing workstation can be used to work with the APF telescope. Some sites may have older scripts that are not APF-aware; if that’s the case, the maintainer(s) for that remote observing site should contact SPG <> to schedule an update.

The specific command used to connect to the APF VNC sessions is:

start_lick_viewers apf

It is also possible to connect in a read-only mode, to facilitate eavesdrop observing:

start_lick_viewers apf passive

Connect to the APF Polycom camera

There is a Polycom video conferencing unit on the third floor of the APF dome. This unit can be used to visually confirm the status of the dome shutter and the mirror covers, as well as the current elevation of the telescope. During nighttime operations, observers should use the audio feedback from the Polycom for unexpected noises. If necessary, the dome lights can be turned on, and a limited visual inspection performed. If any anomalous conditions, the Mt. Hamilton telescope technicians should be contacted immediately, via e-mail to, and via phone at (831) 459-5952.

The address of the APF videoconferencing unit is:

Simultaneous connections from multiple sites are supported.

At the start of the night

On the APF observer’s host, run the openatsunset script to automatically prepare the APF facility for nighttime operations. This script should be run shortly after sunset, so that the dome interior can be brought into equilibrium with exterior conditions. Software monitoring tools will prevent this script from running successfully until after the sun is three degrees below the horizon.

If the openatsunset script does not succeed, follow the instructions in Manually Readying the Telescope.