Observing at LSO after P83

Dear visitor to the La Silla Observatory,

Starting from ESO P84, only technical support will be given on-site to observers. This means that the layout of a typical observing run is going to change.

This document describes how your observations will be handled in the new scheme of operations, which will replace science operations. It also contains links to other documents and information that will help you getting ready for the run.

It describes in chronological order how observing runs are handled, from beginning to end.


  1. When time is awarded
  2. Your trip to the Observatory
  3. At your arrival at LSO
  4. The Observations


1. When time is awarded

  • A welcome letter is sent to you after your program is approved;
  • A contact scientist is assigned to your program;
  • To help you with the preparation, instrument manuals are available;
  • In addition to the full manuals, for each instrument/telescope a cookbook containing the `tips and tricks' of the Support Astronomer is available.

2. Your trip to the Observatory

  • Your trip will be organized by vatravel (vatravel@eso.org);
  • In case the La Serena Office is closed, a contact point in La Serena will be given (a person waiting with an ESO sign at the exit of the airport);
  • Transfers to LSO will be from Mondays to Fridays;.
  • Transfers on different days, or otherwise outside the normal ESO schedule, are undesirable and must be considered exceptional. It implies taxi transport by a private company. For safety reasons this requires prior approval;
  • A change of observer and/or additional observers must be approved by the site manager (SM).
  • La Silla Virtual Tour

3. At your arrival at LSO

  • Please note that there is no WiFi in the rooms. Internet in the room is only available via Ethernet cables. If you wish to instantly download data in the control room, you have to connect via an Ethernet cable.
  • You are given a welcome package, including:
    • room keys, telephone code, computer account, flashlight, safety info;
    • office space and terminal in the new operations building;
    • a welcome letter that informs of the layout of your visit. In particular you should remember that:
      • access to the control room is only allowed when observing or when agreed with the system engineer (typically, the night before starting the observations);
      • If you need immediate support after your arrival, please request to logistics to contact the system engineer to organize the next steps of your visit;
      • the system engineer acts as the interface between you and the day operations group, and in particular she/he:
        • informs the you of the safety restrictions that will be enforced in case of bad weather; the visitor is not allowed to drive cars;
        • asks you what instrument setup is needed for his/her observations;
        • Please remember that you should send the setup request at least the night before your run starts (currently this is only needed for EFOSC2);
        • shows you how to do the data backup request;
        • arranges the visit to the control room to familiarize with the system, typically the night before the start of the observations. He will accompany you to the control room and introduce you to the day crew; thereby the night visit to the control room will also be organized;
        • on the starting day of the observations he will meet you to the control room and make sure everything is ready to go.

      4. The Observations

      • Well before your observations, prepare the observing blocks (OBs) of your observations. For La Silla instruments, you have to do this by using the web-based La Silla P2 tool (www.eso.org/p2ls). Once an OB is created, it is automatically transferred to a database on La Silla. No need to ftp your OBs anymore.
      • At 4 pm on the first day of your observations, you must be in the control room and meet the day person assigned to your telescope/instrument. Please coordinate with the day-time crew (TIO) what set of (special) calibrations you need to be taken.
      • OB queues will be available in the OT, collecting calibration OBs according to instrument mode, e.g. EFOSC2_2x2_normal_longslit. The list of queues and OBs can be found here;

        The calibration OBs and OB queues in the OT have been defined by the instrument scientists (IS) according to the calibration plan of their instrument;

      • The TIO checks the calibration frames to make sure that they are of standard quality;
      • He/She also checks the pipeline-processed frames to make sure they are of standard quality.
      • He/She monitors the QC parameters available in the Autrep pages;
      • In case of problems with the calibrations, follow-up actions will be taken;
      • Please, notice that no data backup-up are performed anymore for the visitor. However, all scientific data can be retrieved through the science archive facility and the ESO user portal
      • In case of HARPS and FEROS also the pipeline reduced data are available on a dedicated Query Form