The unified GuideCam Tool

What is the unified GuideCam tool?

The unified GUideCam Tool (GUCT) is a Java-based observation preparation tool currently offered for VISIR, HAWK-I, VIMOS and MUSE. The tool makes use of the Aladin desktop application (v9.0) and allows the user to visualize the instrument Field-of-View on a sky image, define the central pointing of the telescope, plan observations that involve a sequence of telescope offsets, select telescope guide stars, and create ESO compliant finding charts. Furthermore, GUCT can directly interact with P2PP (version 3.4.2 or higher) as well as with the web-based application p2 in order to attach finding charts or to propagate acquisition template parameters, such as guide star coordinates, to the OB.

IMPORTANT note for VIMOS and VISIR users: GUCT replaces and unifies the VISIR-specific GuideCam tool, the VIMOS-specific GuideCam tool, and the Pre-ImageLess Multi Object Spectroscopy (PILMOS) preparation software.

The use of GUCT is mandatory for all VIMOS (pre-)imaging and PILMOS observations.

Supported Platforms

In general, the unified Guidecam Tool is platform independent. However, if you are planning to use PILMOS please choose the appropriate distribution below. GUCT packages are available for Mac OS X and Linux operating systems.

Latest release

The current version of the unified GuideCam tool is 2.0. It supports the instruments VIMOS, VISIR, HAWK-I and MUSE. This release includes several changes with respect to the previous version, e.g. the support of MUSE, the interaction with p2, as well as a revised tool for science target acquisition. All users should use this latest release.

Guidecam Installation

To install the unified GuideCam tool, you will need to retrieve the tarball for your operating system, unpack it, and start the GUCT executable. As mentioned above GuideCam requires Java (version 1.8 or higher). Before proceeding with the installation, make sure that the Java executable can be found by the system (try the command "java -version" from the command line), or alternatively define the environment variable JAVA_HOME to point to the installation directory of Java, e.g. with a command such as:

export JAVA_HOME=/home/someuser/jre


Then, please follow these steps:

  • Move to the directory where you want to install GUCT.
  • Download the following tarball to the chosen directory:
  • Unpack the tarball gunzip -c GuideCamTool[Version].tar.gz | tar xvf -

    This creates a directory structure that starts with:

  • Move to the GUCT directory:  cd GuideCamTool[Version]
  • STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: if you had previously GUCT version 1.x installed on your computer, first remove the default configuration file from your home directory: rm $HOME/.GuideCamTool/preferences/default.json
  • Start-up the software ./bin/GuideCamTool

    If the GUCT control panel and the Aladin sky view panel appear, you have successfully installed GUCT. You can delete the compressed TAR file.

Unified Guidecam tool Users' Manual


  • The Unified Guidecam tool (GUCT) Users Manual is available for download (PDF file)



HAWK-I specific comments on the unified GuideCam tool

The use of GUCT is highly recommended for HAWK-I observation preparations. It efficiently supports the planning of observations, in particular when offsets will be used. GUCT also allows to prepare ESO compliant finding charts and has a direct interface to P2PP to attach the created finding charts, as well as to transfer acquisition parameters which are specified during a GUCT session.

Note that the current version of GUCT supports the standard imaging mode of HAWK-I but not yet the fast phot mode.

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