Availability of 6dF on the UK Schmidt Telescope: Sem 00B

Text of recent PATT on-line newsletter item

The AAO currently plans to begin commissioning/shared-risk observations with 6dF on the UK Schmidt Telescope in the second half of Semester 2000B.

In order to allow the necessary upgrade to the 6dF detector to be carried out, the current FLAIR system will be decommissioned at the end of Semester 2000A. Consequently, no multi-object spectroscopic service will be offered on the UKST for at least the first three lunations of 00B.

The proposal to offer 6dF to the community as soon as it becomes available on the telescope will:

  • allow AAO to commission 6dF in a timely fashion;
  • maximise the early science returns from 6dF in semester 2000B;
  • allow key non-survey programmes to be undertaken before the commencement of the 6dF Galaxy Survey (currently scheduled for April 2001).

    To accomplish this, the AAO will recommend to the TAGs (the two Schmidt Telescope Panels) that they allocate a total of 12 nights (6 nights from each panel) to carry out 6dF observations in service mode during Semester 2000B. This will be in addition to bright- and dark-time commissioning nights allocated from Director's time. The telescope will revert to its photographic programme in the event of the 6dF schedule not proceeding as planned.

    This service time will be made available to the community by a special Announcement of Opportunity to coincide with one of the AAO's existing service deadlines (most likely September 15). These proposals will be ranked by STP members out-of-session.

    All observations will be carried out in service mode by the 6dF commissioning team. Science observations will be chosen at appropriate points during commissioning on the basis of:

  • (1) Scientific ranking by the STP;
  • (2) Compatibility with current functionality of 6dF (e.g. fibre reconfiguration time).

    Every attempt will be made by the commissioning team to fulfil the notional 12 nights allocated to science during Semester 2000B. To provide full accountability to the STP and user community, the commissioning team will keep an accurate record of the split between commissioning and science time.

    However, the science time should be viewed as `shared-risk' by proposers and STP alike. In the event that essential commissioning encroaches on this time, there can be no guaranteed pay-back to either the STP or proposers.

    Drafted by Dr.Fred.Watson (Astronomer in-charge, AAO)