Another USD astronomer
Another week is coming to an end. This week I made a start on the “duty” aspect of my job.
To further clarify, at ESO most astronomers are working partly for the Observatory and the other part on their own research. The amount of time they spend on each part varies on each persons position here. As an ESO fellow here at the ESO headquarters in Garching near Munich, my “duty” is set upto 25% of my time and the rest of time is for my own research.
When I was a fellow in Chile, I supported the science operations on Paranal Observatory at a level of 80 nights per years (on average 1 week per month). Now that I am in Garching, I chose to work at the User Support Department (USD). Another fellow USD astronomer is Thomas Dall and he gives a nice summary of the work in the department. In other words, USD helps the User (the scientists who are awarded telescope time) prepare the observations to ensure that no (or little as possible) problems occur once the observations are being carried out at the telescope. On Paranal, the night astronomers who actually carry out the observations, report any problems or questions to the corresponding USD astronomer. Having spend time performing such observations on Paranal I now get to see the process from the other end…
For the coming semester I will be supporting several observing programs to be carried out using the instruments known as UVES and FLAMES mounted on Unit Telescope No. 2 of the 4 VLT telescopes. I use these instruments for my own research as well and I am quite fond of them I will leave it to another post to get into the details of what each instrument does and how I use the data collected from them. In brief they are both spectrographs of two different types that split stellar light to produce a spectrum, like a rainbow, except into much much smaller components!
I have reviewed the programs that have been allocated to me and now I am waiting to see what support the users of these programs need from me.