Palomar Observing Instructions

Dear ZTF Summer Astronomy Undergraduates,

I hope your projects are going well and you are enjoying your research!  We are gearing up for what should be a spectacular tour of the Palomar Observatory – this Sunday! I wanted to review some of the details of our schedule with you. The tour will be a fantastic inside look at the entire system of Palomar Observatory – we will go inside the 60” telescope, see the 48” ZTF telescope, and tour deep inside the 200” both during the day and at night. It will be spectacular.

Here is our schedule:

We hope to pick up the Caltech students by 10:00AM. Please be ready to go at the usual pickup spot (just NE of Chandler dining hall). No stragglers!

Most of our Pomona students will be riding in on our Honda Odyssey mini-van, but we will meet the mini-van in front of Millikan at 10:45, which should allow us to shuffle passengers and equipment as needed to balance out our two vehicles. Preliminary indications are that there will be 8 Claremont students coming, so we will need to mix up the vans!  Please arrive to Millikan with all your things by 10:45AM on Sunday! 

You will want to bring these things:

  • Warm Clothes
  • shoes with closed toes
  • a flashlight or headlamp
  • whatever gear you need for an overnight
  • sleeping bag (if camping)
  • camera
  • binoculars or other star party gear
  • water bottle

We have 11 rooms booked in the Monastery – and about 14 students + me so we will need about 4 brave volunteers to camp at the adjacent Observatory camp site.  I can bring a couple of tents, but I do hope that those who are camping will have their own sleeping bags. The camping will actually be pretty fun – but please let me know (and CC the group) if you would like to camp.  Most of you can stay in the Monastery too so email back please if you would be happy campers! 

After we have both vehicles leaving campus by 11:00AM, we will drive to Palomar and arrive by about 1:30PM-2:00PM. We will also have box lunches and drinks available for your enjoyment.  

When we arrive at Palomar, we will look at the visitor center for a bit, then tour the site from 2:30PM until 4:00PM4:00PM is when our guide, Eric Bellm, has to do some calibrations. At that point I will check most of you students in to the Monestary and take a few of tour group off to the campground for setting up camp. We will all gather at the Monastery by about 5:45PM. Then we have dinner at 6:00PM, and will go to the 200” at 8:00 to help Eric open up and tour on the observing floor and catwalk at sunset. 

By 9:30PM we plan to split people into two groups – one will help Eric observe and be shown how the Palomar 200” telescope and Double Spectrograph (DBSP) works, and the other will be outside with me looking through our portable telescope(s) that we will bring. The groups will swap at 10:30PM and we hope to be done by 11:30PM with everyone in bed by midnight.

On Monday, our schedule should enable us to get everyone out of bed and at breakfast by 10:00AM on Monday, and leave the Palomar  site by about 11:00AM. With that timetable we should arrive back at Claremont by 1:00PM and be back at Caltech by 2:00PM. 

I hope this all makes sense – please do let me know if you have questions, and I will look forward to seeing the Caltech students at 10:00AM on Sunday near Chandler Dining Hall and the Pomona students at 10:45AM in front of Millikan!

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