Operation of the Steward Observatory 61" Kuiper Telescope Mont4K CCD Imager


  1. Introduction and Acknowledgments.
  2. Basic information about Mont4K.
  3. Observer and Instrument safety (in case you need assistance...).
    • Contact List
  4. Weather considerations.
  5. Filling the dewar.
    • Static electricity warning
  6. Starting up Mont4K.
  7. Filter wheel.
  8. Flat field.
  9. Observing.
  10. Shutting down Mont4K.

1. Introduction and Acknowledgments.

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2. Basic Information About Mont4K.

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3. Observer and Instrument Safety (In case you need assistance...).

In case of problems with the Mont4K CCD Imager:

    Please report any problems encountered with Mont4K in that night's Trouble Report. Be as detailed as possible. It is also helps in diagnosing problems if suspect CCD images are identified so that they can be found and examined by support/technical personnel.

    There are three major threats to Mont4K:

    1. Lightning. Make sure that the instrument and facility are properly protected from lightning when thunderstorms are in the area (see Section 4).
    2. Static electricity. The CCD is exceptionally sensitive to static electricity. Never touch the instrument (dewar, electronics boxes, etc.) before grounding yourself (see Section 5).
    3. Impact with an elevated observing platform or objects on the platform. Please make sure that the platform and objects on the platform do not get in the way when moving the telescope.

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4. Weather Considerations.

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5. Filling the Dewar.

    The CCD dewar requires a fill of liquid nitrogen (LN2) every 24 hours (i.e., the hold time for the CCD dewar is >24 hours). Make sure that the LN2 fill is documented on the whiteboard on the observing floor.


    The CCD is exceptionally sensitive to static discharge. ALWAYS ground yourself using the metal supports of the observing platform safety chains, hand paddle pole, and/or clamps for the instrument rotator before touching the CCD dewar, filter wheel, or electronics boxes.

    For dewar fills, ground yourself and wear the supplied grounding wrist strap before inserting the fill tube into the dewar. For safety, do not leave the observing floor until the fill is completed and all valves are closed. If there is not enough pressure in the storage dewar to transfer LN2 to the CCD dewar, attach the the dry nitrogen tube (to the right of the south pier) to the pressure relief valve on the storage dewar. Turn the green valve handle to increase the dewar pressure. Make sure that all valves are closed when the CCD dewar fill is completed.

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6. Starting Up Mont4K.

More detailed instructions can be found here if you need to reconnect cabling after a lightning shut down or encounter problems following the startup procedure listed below.

  1. At the telescope:
    • After turning on the MAIN power and TELESCOPE power (see the Observing Manual) turn on the Mont4K power and controller switches.

  2. In the control room:
    • Turn on the computers ("TCS", "kuiper", "bigccd2, and "bigaux").
    • Make sure that the NBS clock is on and dislaying the current UT.
    • Push the botton on the front of bigaux to re-boot the machine.
    • Push the botton on the front of kuiper to re-boot the machine.
    • Log into the TCS computer (just hit <Enter> when asked for a password) and start up TCS using the "New TCS" icon on the display.
    • Log into bigaux by clicking on user "aux" and hitting <Enter>. Double click on the Telcom Server. When the Telcom window comes up, type <backspace>. If Telcom is active, you will see the telemetry stream from the telescope. See the detailed startup directions to learn about the function of the Telcom Server.
    • Log into kuiper with the username: bigobs and make sure that the dataserver, galilserver, and filter gui processes are all running properly. Important: see the detailed kuiper login instructions to learn how the processes that kuiper controls need to initiated and to troubleshoot unexpected problems with the operation of Mont4K. Note: make sure that no other ds9 windows exist before starting "dataserver".
    • Press the button on the front of bigaux to re-boot the machine. AzCamServer should start automatically. Once AzCamServer is running with no complaints, double-click on the AzCamTool icon. This should do a CCD reset (if the Mont4K power switch and controller are turned on) and Mont4K will then be ready for use.
    • Check the time on bigccd2. this should be the time from the GPS server, but after a cold start, it may not have had time to synchronize. See the detailed startup directions (bottom of that document) to adjust the clock.

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7. Filter Wheel.

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8. Flat Field.

  • Open the mirror covers with the telescope pointed at zenith.
  • Move the telescope to the flat field screen by offsetting the telescope from the stow position (HA=0h, EL=90°) by -65.5° in Declination.
  • Move the dome so that the orange arrows line up and the telescope is pointed at the flat field screen.
  • The flat field lamps can be turned on at the control box located on the east side of the south pier. The number of lamps to be used can be chosen and a rheostat adjusts the intensity of the lamps that are turned on.
  • If you are planning on a lengthy calibration session using the dome flats and will not be present in the dome during a portion of the calibrations, it is best to at least disable the telescope drive motors within TCS.
  • Do not open the mirror covers even for taking dome flats if it is raining/snowing or if the humidity is too high for observing.

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9. Observing

The operation of Mont4K is largely controlled by the observer with the bigccd2 computer using AzCamTool. However, the filter wheel is best controlled using the GUI on kuiper provided by the Galilserver. Observers should find the following help pages of use in acquiring and examining data with the Mont4K:

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10. Shutting Down Mont4K.

At the end of a night of observing:

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Back to the 61" Operations Manual.

Back to the 61" Home Page.

The 61" cognizant observer is Paul Smith --psmith@as.arizona.edu