AAO Newsletter July 96 - Page 4


close to achieving its throughput targets and despite some significant rawness to the system in June, we were successful in acquiring our first science field to obtain spectra of about 150 objects.

The euphoria generated by our successes in June were moderated by rather patchy weather during the July commissioning. We gained further experience in spectrograph focus and worked with a system which, in principle, could configure while observing. This was not achieved in practice, however, because of the lack of a light seal between the detector and the back-illumination LEDs within the spectrograph - hopefully to be fixed for the next run. Nevertheless the cloudy conditions gave the software team ample opportunity to probe and test control algorithms and procedures at all levels of operation; work that is, of course, vital but which can sometimes benefit from the concentrated atmosphere of an observing run.

Of course all the "user" wants to know is when is the beast going to be ready to take "real" data. Well, as you will see from the front cover and Ray Sharples' accompanying article, we've already begun. Nevertheless we have a long way to go before we are routinely and reliably configuring 400 fibres in 30 minutes while observing. My attempts at predicting 2dF progress have always been flawed and there is no reason why this time should be any different. However, given this warning, my current predictions are as follows:

September - 1 Spectrograph; 200 fibres per plate; 1-2 hour configuration time
November - 2 Spectrograph; 400 fibres per plate; 1-2 hour configuration time
December - 2 Spectrograph; 400 fibres per plate; 1 hour configuration time
January - 2 Spectrograph; 400 fibres per plate; 0.5 hour configuration time

This is on the assumption that all goes smoothly and to plan, so please factor in your own personal handicap !

Keith Taylor
Cartoons courtesy of Jonathan Pogson


Ann Savage: A big thank you for my retirement/Christmas present

I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues for my beautiful retirement present. You have probably all wondered about the silence since I retired on 17 July 1995; six months ago by the time you read this. I received the cards from the AAO Epping, Siding Spring site and ROE many months ago and these are still hanging up in our lounge but now in the company of Christmas cards. [Astute readers will notice something adrift here; a further delay of several months occurred because Ann's letter was mislaid and missed earlier issues].

I was misguided enough to request a sundial as a retirement gift. Paul Cass managed to track down the only research team in Australia that makes precision sundials. It turns out the Boss worked with Peter Gillingham at the Adelaide Weapons Research Establishment. Precision Sundials take time, especially as Paul couldn't get through on the phone so that task was delegated to myself. I was doubly lucky; I got through and there was a 10% discount on Sundials ordered in August! Mine is precision designed for Holly Farm, Latitude 31° 21'S, Longitude 149° 19'E (The Schmidt Telescope

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