Project work over the years

Although most of the daily activities of the engineering staff is taken up addressing problems that may have occurred overnight and checking out the telescopes and instruments before the observers arrive in the afternoon, occasionally one is involved with a project to enhance the operation of the observatory. This may include the installation and commissioning of a new instrument or detector, to improve the performance of an existing installation or replacing outdated systems such as computers, etc.

In this respect, along with the scientific and admin staff, a large observatory requires people skilled in engineering disciplines. These cover many areas such as mechanical, optical, electrical, electronics, computer programming, networking and so forth. Some staff also have the responsibility of looking after specific pieces of equipment.

Over the years I had many. Notably the INT and JKT telescope control systems, the JKT Acquisition and Guidance box (JAG), the Peoples' photometer, the JKT photographic plate camera, the INT A&G box and spectrograph (IDS) and the WHT prime focus imaging platform (PFIP). I also maintained the time services for the ING telescopes and before it was remotely operated, the time service for Carlsberg Automatic Meridian Circle (CAMC).

All in all, plenty to keep me occupied! Below is selection of some of the work I got involved with and will give an idea of what its like to work at a world class observatory from the engineering rather than the scientific aspect.