Before You Begin

by Gustaaf Van Moorsel last modified Mar 10, 2017 by Lorant Sjouwerman


The following guidelines, in somewhat preferred order, allow to avoid the most obvious problems and in general is a good way to proceed. Also, we have set up this manual to make you familiar with the tools, features, possibilities, concepts and practicalities in a relatively natural way, so that a next step becomes almost intuitive.

  1. Collect proposal information to remind yourself the details of your observing proposal. It is good to have your proposal handy; it should be available in the PST if you do have a printed copy already. You will need the positions of your target sources and calibrator sources for flux density, delay/bandpass and gain calibration. Resource information for wide band continuum observations includes the frequency bands of your observation. For spectral line observations you need either an exact sky frequency or a combination of rest frequency, velocity and velocity reference frame information on your target sources, and the details of the correlator configuration.
  2. Check the project, in the OPT labeled with the project code, in terms of program/scheduling blocks entered by NRAO staff. This read-only information will likely be the project name, PB and allocated time, array array configurations, and scheduling priorities. Source catalogs will be created with the PST information provided but make sure that the positions are transferred correctly and to sufficient accuracy for your science. Resource catalogs will have been made but be left empty at this stage. The NRAO Helpdesk is available to clarify any confusions.


After Logging into the OPT Web Application

Projects do not appear in the OPT directly after the disposition letters are sent. They are created a few months later, about a month before the reconfiguration to the first possible array configuration of the observations. The page shown directly after logging in to the OPT web application should be the OPT front page with your project tree consisting of a PB and an (empty) SB. Some information on this page should be already filled out and read-only. Check this information with the information you gathered in the previous section and inform us as soon as possible if you think there is an error in any of these fields; the sooner you check this the sooner we can have it corrected, and the sooner you can start creating SBs. Fortunately, it most likely won’t be that complicated, but it is a good idea to allow yourself ample time to get used to the tools and to let us help you with your questions.

The remainder of this document will guide you through the different components to create an SB/observing schedule. The SCT is the easiest and most logical to start with. The RCT and OPT use many features or concepts that are similar to the features or concepts in the SCT and thus need not be addressed again. As the OPT must use information defined both in the SCT and in the RCT, a chapter on the RCT is placed before the chapter on the OPT.

If at any time you wish to exit, use FILE - EXIT or the Exit button on the top right hand side of any of the tools. Please do not exit the tool by closing the web browser or browser tab before exiting properly, with either of the exit options, as this will keep your session alive and will create problems accessing (read: approving) your SB for some hours.

As an advance hint on user friendliness, experience has shown that it is convenient to keep the RCT and SCT catalogs or groups as compact as possible because you need to select from these catalogs in the OPT. That is, it is best to keep only the sources and resources you want to use in a single observation in a catalog and to include the calibrators from large lists (e.g. the VLA calibrator list) already in that source catalog, with perhaps a different, more descriptive name. What is meant by this and why will become clear later on.