Science Operations

LBC Software

The following should be completed beforehand by the support astronomer (ISA), the operator (OSA), or the Instrument Tech (ISp) on duty. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the directions in case you need to restart software or change instruments in the middle of the night:

  • Use x2go to open a session onto an obs workstation (the 64-bit robs or eventually the upgraded mountain obsN workstations) using your partner account (INAF, LBTB, OSURC, AZ or LBTO). Note that for robs, you must use a MATE and not GNOME session.
  • There are two ways to start up the LBCs and related software:
    • Click the LBC button in the Applications -> Graphics menu at the upper left of the robs session, as illustrated here. This will open the following windows/sessions. The windows may need to be resized. The downward pointing caret (“v”) will iconify the window, while the upward pointing caret (“^”) will toggle back and forth between full screen.
  • a chromium browser open to the LBC User Interface URL (lbc_cmu)
  • an IRAF session (lbc_iraf)
  • an IDL session (lbc_idl)
  • an FPIA log monitoring tool (lbc_fpia_monitor)
  • The LBC button will no longer launch RB_Science. RB_Science must be launched from a command line window.
  • Open each window/session individually:
    • Open a terminal window and type lbc_cmu.
    • Open a terminal window and type RB_Science.
    • Open a terminal window and type lbc_iraf.
    • Open a terminal window and type lbc_idl.
    • Open a terminal window and type lbc_fpia_monitor.

LBC User Interface

The LBC User Interface has 5 panels: House Keeping, Power Control, OB Execution, Log Analyzer and Information. By default, it comes up with the House Keeping screen displayed.

  • Go to the Power Control page.

    • The House Keeping should be on (“ready”). If not, turn it on. 
    • The “Other Systems” (Cameras, Trackers, Filters and Rotator) should be off, but “enabled” (meaning ready to be turned on). Click the button to turn these on.

      • Note: If the ambient temperature is less than 0 C, then click the “Warm Up” button first and wait ~10-min for each degree below 0. Then click the “Turn on” button.
  • Once the operator says that the LBCs are authorized, click the “Connect LBC” button at the top (both sides for binocular, left or right to use LBCB or LBCR only).


The LBC application will also have launched an IDL session. If you need to launch IDL from a terminal window, then use the command lbc_idl (not just idl).


The LBC application will have launched an xgterm window and started an IRAF session in it.
  • In IRAF, epar LBTtools and set the 
    • camera to LBC
    • archive to /lbt/data/new/   (/lbt/data/new on robs = /newdata on obs[2,3,4])
    • utdate to the UT date for the night in the format, YYYYMMDD
    • :wq to save parameters and exit
  • type LBTtools to load the LBTtools package
  • type Observe to load the Observe package, which contains lbcrangebal
  • type LBC to load the LBC package, which contains allseeing
  • create a working directory. robs does not have a /scratch disk, so on robs, you’ll have to work under your partner account. The upgraded obs[2,3,4] will hopefully have /scratch disks with plenty of space available.
  • In IRAF, cd /home/<partner>/your_dir. Do any IRAF work in this directory, since it is local and you have write permission to it.
  • type prepdir to create the subdirectories under /home/<partner>/your_dir that are needed by LBTtools tasks.
  • Once the LBC software is up and running, take a test bias:
  1. Test scripts are located in /home/LBTO/Calib_OBs/BIASDARK. Use 2Bias_Bino_Checkout.ob or 10Bias_Bino_Checkout.ob (the *_Checkout.ob scripts will write Checkout in the object name so as to distinguish these biases from those taken for calibration purposes, which require lights off and a telescope that is not slewing).
  2. Follow the directions in the Observing Procedure section.
  3. Biases should be approximately 300 counts.


RB_Science should be launched from the command window. There are various command-line options, a few of which are listed below. RB_Science -h, –help and –howto will show you, respectively, a list of the available options, a list and a description of each option and, finally, full documentation on the options and some examples of their use.

When RB_Science is launched from a terminal window, log information on each image is printed as it is displayed. The information that is printed can be controlled by the [blu/red]keys option as described below.

RB_Science will close automatically if there is no new activity after several hours or, if it was launched from a terminal window, by entering a control-C in that window.



Prints a short one-page summary of all the available options.


Lists the available options and gives a brief description of each.


Prints the full documentation for RB_Science.

RB_Science with no arguments, as launched by the LBC icon, will open a ds9 window with 2 frames, the first of which will be used to display any new LBCB images and the second, any new LBCR images. By default, RB_Science will look for new images every 5 seconds and it will display only images taken after the program is started.



By default, RB_Science will look for images in /lbt/data/new (equivalent to /newdata on the old obsN machines). If you want it to look elsewhere to the images, then specify that path using the –src option.


This gives the user the option to pause frame 1 or 2 or both and is useful when more time is needed to examine the last image before the ongoing one is completed and saved to disk.


If RB_Science has to be restarted for any reason, this is the command to use.

To display the last image taken before RB_Science was restarted, use:
RB_Science --starttime -1

You may also go back to a specific time by entering it using the ISO time standard, either in full or partially, e.g.

RB_Science --starttime "2021-01-20T04"

or by entering an LBC image filename, e.g.

RB_Science --starttime "lbcr.20210120.045601.fits"

–blucmds or –redcmds

The display commands to be passed to ds9. These are made up of a rule, in which a pattern matching string can be specified, and a series of display commands to be applied to that rule. For example, the default display of LBC images would use:

RB_Science --blucmds 'lbcb.*.fits:mosaicimage wcs {},zoom to fit, zscale, cmap cool' \ --redcmds 'lbcr.*.fits:mosaicimage wcs {},zoom to fit, zscale, cmap bb'

–blutimeout or –redtimeout

RB_Science will display only one frame when only one LBC is being used. However, to reduce resources, the user could indicate a timeout on the side that is not being used. For example,

RB_Science --redtimeout 0 indicates that the search for red images will timeout immediately and this would be appropriate when only LBCB is used. Vice versa, when only LBCR is being used, supply a timeout for the blue side, as RB_Science --blutimeout 0

–blufiles or –redfiles

This allows the user to specify the blue (frame 1) or red (frame 2) image name pattern. RB_Science can display LUCI or MODS images, as well as LBC images, and this option will find the most use when observing in mixed mode, with LBC on one side and either MODS or LUCI on the other. For example, to display LBCB and LUCI2 images, use:

RB_Science --blufiles 'luci1*.fits' --blucmds 'luci1*.fits: fits {}, zoom to fit, cmap bb' \
--redfiles 'lbcr*.fits' --redcmds 'lbcr*.fits: mosaicimage wcs {}, zoom to fit, cmap bb'

–refreshrate, –blurefreshrate or –redrefreshrate

The default refresh rate, i.e. the frequency at which RB_Science looks for new images on the disk, is 5 seconds. This works well, but can be adjusted if you want to see the new images more quickly or at a less frequent interval, though for the latter, the –pause option is more appropriate.