National Optical Astronomy Observatories


Kitt Peak National Observatory

Mountain Operations



March 15, 1999


To: All Observers on KPNO Telescopes

From: John Glaspey

Subject: Response to technical Problems


This is to inform all observers on KPNO-operated telescopes that effective 1999 March 15 there will be no call-out of technical staff after 8:00PM to fix problems, except for those that threaten the safety of a telescope or an instrument.

Recently imposed budgetary restrictions have forced KPNO to eliminate more staff positions related to technical support at the mountain, including two in the Electronic Maintenance group. As a result, we have changed the work schedules of the members of that group in order to provide coverage from 8:00AM until 8:00PM (9:00PM in the Summer months.) Since we continue to support fully the 4-meter, WIYN, 2.1-meter, Coude feed and 0.9-meter telescopes through the end of the 99A Semester, this staff schedule permits us to maintain equipment and respond to problems at the start of normal observing nights and during daylight hours. Should you have a problem that seems to affect the ability to acquire data or the scientific quality of data, you should inform the Observing Assistant responsible for the telescope.

We want everyone to understand the new mode of operating. As always, the Observing Assistant (OA) is responsible for and is in charge of the telescope and the instrumentation during the night. If an observer has any sort of problem, this should be reported to the OA, who can then take the appropriate action. The first response should be the OA performing a few tests, based on the OA's experiences with the device in question. If the problem seems serious enough, a radio call can be made to Electronic Maintenance (before 8PM), and the technician on duty will respond. Between 8PM and 11PM a technician can be contacted by telephone for advice. If a "work-around" can be found, no further action will be taken that night, but it will be worked on the next normal work day. (For the Coude Feed and the 0.9-meter, the OA on duty at the 2.1-meter should be contacted and will respond as time permits.)

Clearly, very severe problems involving the safety of the equipment (e.g. smoke pouring from a cabinet) will lead to an immediate response.

The OAs will continue to apply "aperture priority" regarding allocation of resources in solving major problems. The Supervisor of Mountain Scientific Support or the Director may be contacted the following day to discuss the impact of that choice.

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.