The University of Iowa Automated Telescope Facility by E.C. Downey and R.L. Mutel (1995), presented at the Fifth Annual Conference on Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems, published in Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems V, A.S.P. Conference Series, Vol. 101, 1996, George H. Jacoby and Jeannette Barnes, eds., p. 380.

The University of Iowa Automated Telescope Facility

E.C. Downey and R.L. Mutel
University of Iowa

We describe a CCD-based automated telescope system in operation at the University of Iowa. A description of the basic hardware and software is presented followed by walk-throughs from the perspectives of a typical user and telescope operator. The system includes a software architecture which emphasizes portability. Observers initiate observing programs using a simple free-format scripting language for preparing observing requests. Users may specify source names using built-in catalogs (e.g. Messier, NGC, SAO, BS), or for solar system objects, by name or number (e.g. Neptune, 4 Vesta). The schedule file describes sources, durations, filters and other observing parameters. A telescope scheduling program reads all outstanding requests from input scripts generated by users. It generates an ordered observing list for a given night based on priority, transit time, unless an explicit LST start time is requested. A telescope control daemon then reads the sorted schedule file and issues commands to the hardware control daemons. A monitor and control program allows observers to monitor telescope and camera status and (optionally) provides manual control for diagnostic testing. All CCD images all calibrated by default and pattern matched to the Guide Star Catalog, with accurate WCS coordinates written to the FITS header. Additional post-processing tools include an interactive image display and analysis program which supports differential and absolute photometry as well as sub-pixel astrometry; batch tools to automate supernova searches and the generation of asteroid and variable star light curves, and a stand-alone WCS calibration tool. Additional details are available at the WWW site

[WCSTools] [WCSTools paper]