Conducting the SONG: The Robotic Nature and Efficiency of a Fully Automated Telescope

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DOI

We present a description of "the Conductor," an automated software package that handles all observations at the first Stellar Observations Network Group (SONG) node telescope at the Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife. The idea was to provide a complete description on the automated procedures for target selection and execution of observations and to demonstrate how the SONG robotic telescope is being operated. The Conductor is a software package developed in Python and running on a server in Aarhus that makes use of a large set of database tables through which it communicates with the SONG nodes. Based on a number of selection criteria the Conductor is able to identify the optimum target to be observed at any given moment, taking into account local weather conditions and technical constraints. The Conductor has made it possible for the Hertzsprung SONG telescope to become a highly sophisticated and efficient robotic telescopic facility without human interaction. It can handle everything from principal investigators submitting their proposed targets with specific settings, to the data being available for download after the observations has been carried out. At present, and thanks to the availability of the Conductor, the first node of the SONG project can be considered a world leading robotic telescope with respect to needed human interactions, efficiency, and flexibility in observing strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045003
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (PASP)
Volume131
Issue998
Number of pages11
ISSN0004-6280
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

    Research areas

  • telescopes, instrumentation: spectrographs, techniques: radial velocities, methods: observational

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