Science Operations

Starting the Software

Login to a mountain workstation

The MODS instruments must be run from the workstations on the mountain. The observatory is transitioning away from the older, 32-bit OS machines: obs2; obs3 and obs4; and towards the 64-bit OS machines: obs5; obs6 and robs. There are slight differences in the software startup. These instructions are for the new machines. Instructions for the old machines are here.
  • on the mountain: login to obs5 or obs6 (robs is a virtual machine) using your partner account credentials.
  • in the Tucson remote room:
    • login to a 6-headed rm507 workstation as observer (ask LBTO support staff for the password)
    • from the Applications menu in the bottom left corner, select x2go.
    • enter your partner account credentials. The partner accounts on obs5, obs6 and robs must use all lowercase letters: az, inaf, lbtb, osurc, lbto
    • select a MATE session.
    • You may stretch the virtual desktop over all 6 monitors.
    • You are now essentially working on the mountain workstation.

To copy your scripts to the mountain workstation:

From a terminal window on computer on which your scripts are located and from a directory just above the directory in which your scripts are located (here called myscripts), type:
scp -r myscripts/ <partner>

This command will copy the entire directory, myscripts, to obs5 and put it under the directory /home/partner where partner is one of the partner account names (az, inaf, lbto or osurc). On obs5, obs6 and robs, the partner account names are only lowercase.

Check the status of MODS

Open a terminal window and type:
mods1 status (for MODS1); and
mods2 status (for MODS2)

Everything listed but the modsUI (User Interface GUI) should be open and owned by mods. If not, notify the TO, ISA, or ISp and ask them to restart the service. Once all but the GUI are open and owned by mods, proceed.

Start the MODS User Interface

In the terminal window type:

mods1 start gui

to open the MODS Control Panel for MODS1, or type:

mods2 start gui

to open the equivalent panel for MODS2.

Setup the…


FITS Image File Names

  1. On the right side of the Setup Screen, click Get Date to update the UT date in the image filenames. Make sure it is the correct UT date for the night; if it is before 1700 MST (00 UT), you should manually increment the number to reflect the UT date for the night. Click “Apply”.
  2. Check the filenames (i.e. mods1b.20130915.0001.fits) to ensure the index numbers are as expected. If you or someone else has taken files earlier during the same UT day, you may have to manually adjust the index number to reflect this. The Refresh button would do this, unless someone has clicked “Apply” already. As a rule, avoid the Refresh button.

Observer/Project Information

While many scripts will set the Partner Name, PropID and PI Name (in blue below) automatically, it is important to enter default values for data taken “by hand” or for scripts in which it is not specified:

  1. Observer Names (can be separated by commas and spaces). This goes into headers as the value for the keyword, OBSERVER.
  2. Enter the Partner Name: OSURC, AZ, INAF, LBTB, LBTO. The name entered here goes into the headers as PARTNER and determines how the data will be archived. (Multiple partners can be listed, separated by commas but no spaces.)
  3. Enter PropID
  4. Enter PI Name,
  5. Support (SUPPORT),
  6. Telescope Operator (TELOPS) and a
  7. Comment describing the run.

Once all the necessary updates have been made, click Apply, then Save. The Partner, PropID and PI Name will be overridden later by the parameters in the “Archive” blocks of subsequent MODS observing scripts.

The MODS User Interface is now running and setup. To learn how to start or end the night and to run scripts during the night, go to the Observing Procedure page. To learn more about the MODS GUI, specifically how to use it manually, go to the MODS User Interface page.

Launch modsDisp

In a terminal window, type modsDisp to launch four ds9 windows, one for each channel (blue/red) of each MODS (MODS1/MODS2). Each image, as it arrives in the /lbt/data/new directory, will be displayed in the appropriate ds9 window. Leave the terminal window visible, as you can copy the filenames to paste into the modsAlign command line when you come to aligning the target in the slit, or alignment stars in the boxes on a MOS mask. If you prefer to keep the log information for MODS1 and MODS2 images separate (or you are running only one MODS), you may launch modsDisp with the option –mods1 or –mods2.

Preparing for the night

To prepare for the night, it is necessary to wake up MODS and to put MODS into observing mode.

Wake up MODS

cd ~/modseng/modsScripts/Support  (this assumes that the modseng directory has been linked under the partner’s home directory on obs5, obs6 or robs; a more general solution will be coming). To create a softlink to the modseng directory under the partner’s home directory:
cd; ln -s /lbt/data/old_homes/modseng modseng
Monocular: execMODS –mods1 or execMODS –mods2
Binocular: execBinoMODS

The scripts turn on the IR laser, set it to the correct power level and enable it. They also reset the CCD settings and insure that what should be on during obseving is on and what should be off during observing is off.

Take test images

Monocular: execMODS –mods1 or execMODS –mods2
Binocular: execBinoMODS

Put MODS into observing mode & “Home” the AGw stage

  1. Click the “Observing” button near the top left of the MODS User Interface. The text on this and other buttons will be orange while mechanisms are moving. Once they have finished moving,
  2. Click the “Home” button to the right of the AGw stage X, Y, focus and Filter positions to “Home” the guider stage.

Open ancillary monitoring tools


In a terminal window, type GCSGUI left & to open the SX Guide Control System GUI and GCSGUI right & to open the same for DX.
These GUIs display the guide and wavefront sensing (WFS) camera images, along with measures of the guide star FWHM, the WFS wavefront error (should be <400nm for good collimation), and the average FWHM of the WFS Shack spots.


In a terminal window, type LBTplot to open the LBTplot tool. The buttons are context driven, and for MODS observing, the most useful ones are SXguide and DXguide, as they plot the guide star FWHM and flux as a function of time.