Usage of the ACE spectrograph on the RCC

Revision as of 19:40, 14 August 2019 by Bcseh (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search


Logging in

You can use the telescope and the camera via ssh login and screen. See description here: Usage of the screen program

An example for ssh login: ssh -X where user is your username on m5

Or, alternatively, you can use x2go to connect to the RCC control computer, m5.

The x2go Session preferences window

To use x2go, you need the following setup:

  • Session:
    • Session name: whatever you want
    • Host:
    • Login: your username on m5
    • SSH port: 22
    • Session type: GNOME
    • If you want to connect to m5 outside of the konkoly network, you have to tick Use proxy server for SSH connection.
      • Type: SSH
      • Host:
      • Port: 22
      • Login: your username on
  • Connection
    • Connection speed: the speed of your internet
    • Compression: 16m-jpeg + image quality 9 usually works just fine.
  • Input/output
    • Display: You can choose whatever you prefer here. Usually in a FHD display a costume 1920*1040 resolution works fine. Tick Set display DPI and set it to 96.
    • Clipboard mode: Bidirectional
    • Keyboard: Auto detect
  • Media
    • Untick everything.
  • Shared folders
    • If you want to access a folder on your computer on m5, add your folder here.


Enter your working directory in a console: cd /data/user/YYYYMMDD Always save your fits files into the data folder!

In a console type: rcc-test If everything is green, proceed further. If not, contact the support astronomer.

In a console type: acectrl --status If Main pickoff mirror is on, the telescope is ready for spectroscopic observations. If not, type acectrl --start. For help see acectrl --help

Start ds9. Check the telescope:

Start CCDSH in a console: ccdsh

If the telescope was used for photometry previously, the telescope focus should be moved back to the value of ~80.8: CCD> get focus then CCD> set focus 80.8

If your .ccdsh_startup file is not prepared for the usage of the spectrograph camera, type in CCDSH: CCD> source /usr/local/ccdsh/scripts/load-spec.ccdsh This will load the camera driver.

Type CCD> status; rcc status in CCDSH. If everything is green, proceed further.

Check the camera temperature in CCDSH: CCD> get temperature If it is not cooled down, check the status of the cooler (should be turned on): cooler --status Cool down the camera: CCD> set temperature -40

If the temperature difference between the actual temperature of the camera and the target temperature is big, cool it down in two steps. In summer, the target temperature should be -35 Celsius, in other seasons -40.

Cool the guider camera. Type in a console: rcc-autoguide.fli --temperature -30

Open the dome slit. In CCDSH: CCD> set dome slit open

Open the guider cap: CCD> rcc guidercap open

Start the tracking: CCD> set mount track on

Start the automatic dome rotation: CCD> rcc dome auto

Open the tube and mirror covers: CCD> rcc tubecover open

After 30 seconds: CCD> rcc mirrorcover open

Type CCD> rcc status. If everything is opened and green, proceed.


  • Set the spectrograph mode appropriately. Probably you would start with taking a few ThAr spectra, so use acectrl --mode thar. Starting with some ThAr spectra can easily check whether the bench collimator optics is in focus and such spectra can also be taken while waiting for the bench camera to completely be cooled down.
  • If the ThAr spectra are slightly out of focus, use acectrl --spectrum-focus [+|-]step to fine-tune in the focus position. If the ThAr spectra are completely blurred, reset the collimator focus using acectrl --spectrum-reset and then start tuning with the focus. Don't forget to explicitly specify the sign of focusing steps!
  • If the camera is cooled, take same ThAr spectra and save them. Use exposure times between 1...5 seconds.
  • In a single run, never change the bench focus position once set properly.
  • Turn the spectrograph into scientific mode with acectrl --mode science.
  • Turn on the auxiliary LED on by acectrl --led 0.7.
  • Open a browser window to monitor the fiber camera on
  • Watch the live image of the on-axis camera. If needed, adjust focus of the on-axis fiber camera optics with acectrl --fiber-focus [+|-]step
  • Turn off the auxiliary LED on by acectrl --led 0.
  • In a single run, never change the focus of the fiber camera optics once set properly.
  • Start the telescope sidereal tracking and slew the telescope to the desired position. Use the CCDSH focusing command set focus ... to focus the telescope in order to have a sharp image on the on-axis fiber camera (the approximate telescope focus value for the spectrograph is around 81.2, depending on the weather conditions).
  • Tweak the telescope position (using CCDSH or the program rccpanel) in order to move the target star behind the fiber.
  • Start autoguiding if needed (it is recommended to do autoguiding if exposure times are longer than a few minutes).
  • Take spectra.
  • Take ThAr spectra regularly. The frequency of such spectra depends on the scientific accuracy needed by the actual observations. In general, the larger the thermal stability of the bench, the less frequent the ThAr spectra have to be taken.


When you finished observing, stop the autoguider when it is in a relax state with ctrl+c. Also, you can stop a sequence or a script with ctrl+c.

Warm up the guider camera. In a console: rcc-autoguide.fli --temperature off

Stop the spectrograph: The following series of commands should be executed:

  • Turn the spectrograph into scientific mode with acectrl --mode science. This command will also switch off the ThAr lamp and flat lamp if these were turned on berfore.
  • Also ensure that the auxiliary LED is switched off with the command acectrl --led 0.
  • Check the status with acectrl --status. The above two commands ensure that no light sources are left turned on and hence the spectrograph frontend box is completely dark. This is essential if alternate instrumentation mounted below the frontend box is going to be used.
  • Turn off the spectrograph with acectrl --stop.


  • CCD> set mount track off
  • CCD> rcc dome manual
  • CCD> rcc mirrorcover close
  • After 30 seconds: CCD> rcc tubecover close
  • CCD> rcc guidercap close
  • CCD> set dome slit close
  • CCD> rcc slew 0 47.8
  • CCD> set dome azimuth=156.3

After a few minutes, check that everything is ok and closed in CCDSH: CCD> status; rcc status

Turn on the lights in the dome: CCD> set dome light 1 on/off

Check the telescope on the webpage:

Turn off the lights in the dome: CCD> set dome light 1 off/on

After you finished making the calibration images you can warm up the camera: CCD> set temperature off

The temperature of the camera should rise slowly. You don't have to warm completely up the camera, but in case of storms and other anomalies it is recommended.

In case of any problem consult this page and/or notify the support astronomer.

Personal tools