Institute for Astronomy Solar-C

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Find operating instructions, troubleshooting tips and resources for Solar-C.


On the dome, immediately to the East of the entrance, is a circuit breaker box. Switch the bottom three (blue; coupled) circuits in the left hand column of the box to the on position to engage the dome and slit motors. This should be switched off when leaving. All other electric circuits can remain on.





Open the Dome Slit and Flap

First connect the control cable to the dome slit controller. Move the safety clip on top of the control switch and the large toggle to the left to open the dome or to the right to close it.

Disconnect the control cable and wrap it up on the hook on the dome wall..

Note: This step must be done first as the slit covers the flap.



Then connect the flap cable to the flap controller. Make sure the speed adjustment knob in the bottom left corner of the controller mechanism is set to 0 (turned all the way counter-clockwise). Set the open/close toggle switch to the desired position depending on whether you want to open or close the flap and then turn on the controller using the red switch in the bottom right corner. Turn the speed adjustment knob in the bottom left corner of the controller mechanism all the way clockwise for maximum speed.

Note: Don't turn the speed knob to full and THEN switch on the controller - this can make the belt slip off the roller.



Run the Telescope Control System (TCS)

The telescope and dome are controlled via 9 motors numbered 0-8:

  • 1,2 control RA and Dec axes (the second row of controller cards in the rack)
  • 3-7 control the 6 hexapod axes used to position the secondary (the top row of controller cards in the rack)
  • 8 controls the dome (the far right controller card - exposed - in the top row of the rack)

These motors are operated via motion control software and hardware installed on the Solar-C PC. This PC is located on the bottom of the hardware rack in the dome. Video monitor access is located against the East wall of the dome and at the far right hand corner of the desk facing south in the Zodiacal Light building.

To operate the telescope, hexapod and dome for normal observation and tracking, start the software control system using the Solar-C PC in one of the following manners:

Script Method (preferred)

  1. Click the TheSky Startup icon on the desktop
  2. Select to initialize and/or run in closed-loop mode when dialogs appear
  3. Select to initialize the dome or not when dialog appears


Manual Method

  1. Start TheSky
    (select the menu item Start->All Programs->TheSky Astronomy Software or click TheSky Astronomy Software icon on the desktop)
  2. Select Telescope->Link->Establish from the main menu bar
  3. Select to initialize and/or run in closed-loop mode when dialogs appear
  4. Press Shift+D to access the dome interface
  5. Select to initialize the dome or not when dialog appears

The telescope and dome are now linked and synchronized.

NOTE: If Shift+D has no effect, then the main window of TheSky does not have the focus. Click on the main window's Title Bar to set the focus to the main window.


NOTE: The Solar-C PC is located in the equipment rack in the dome. Terminal access is available in the dome on the east wall or along the south wall in the adjoining ZL room.







Run Telescope Image Control (TIC)

The LUNA PC is locate in the equipment rack in the dome (second from the bottom). Terminal access is available along the south wall in the adjoining ZL room.

To run TIC perform the following basic steps:

  1. Log on to LUNA
    Username: tic
    Password: please contact Haosheng Lin
  2. cd cam2.0
  3. Type "idl" to start IDL
  4. Type "tic" at the IDL prompt to start TIC
  5. In the TIC main window click the Guider button to start the guider GUI
  6. In the Guider main window click the menu item Controls->CCD Control
  7. In the CC Control window enter a value (milliseconds) for the camera exposure time in the topmost text box and press return - 200 is a nominal value
  8. In the Guider main window click the Run Camera button to start the guider camera
  9. In the Guider main window click the Setup->Set Ref Intensity menu item to establish a reference intensity for the camera
  10. In the Guider main window click the Lock Tel to begin the guiding calculations and lock the telescope on to the current image

For more information please contact Haosheng Lin.

Fill the Dewar

For more information please contact Haosheng Lin.

Run NICMOS Data Acquisition Application

For more information please contact Haosheng Lin.

Running the Tip/Tilt Mirror

The fast guider mirror for Solar C is controlled by Lonokaeho. To run the fast guider the following steps should be taken:

  1. Turn on the position servo-controller, located in the dome.
  2. Boot Lonokaeho.
  3. Start the “Real Fast” program – there is a shortcut for this program on the desktop of Lonokeaho
    • A window titled “Application Options” will open up. The settings should be correct – click OK
    • A window “Network Device Finder” window will open up. The settings should be correct – click OK
    • A third window will open up “Select Camera” – select “Silicon Imaging SI-1300M” and click on OK
    • After a moment the final window will open. Click on the button “Receive IDL commands.
  4. Run IDL
    • This can be done by opening the IDL folder and double clicking on either the corrtrack program or the limbtrack program. A shortcut to the corrtrack program can also be found on the desktop.
  5. Type corrtrack if you will be tracking on a feature with edges in both directions, such as a sunspot or coronal loop. If you will be guiding on the solar limb type “limbtrack.”
  6. Set the exposure time.
    • For the 1” annular aperture on disk center 5 ms is a good value.
    • Larger images will not allow short exposures – to achieve an exposure time of 5 ms a sub image of only 300X300 should be used. (See step 10)
  7. Turn on the movie mode.
    • To enter the movie mode click on the movie button.
    • Movie mode can be exited by clicking on the “Cancel” button.
  8. Contrast can be adjusted by setting the intensity range.
    • There are two boxes to the right of “I:.” This is the intensity range. The camera will register from 0 to 1024 counts.
    • Changing the intensity range is best done when not in movie mode.
  9. Move the telescope until tracking feature is in the lower left hand corner of the fast guider field of view.
  10. Narrow the field of view.
    • DO NOT change the x-off or y-off. This will crash the program. Elaine is working on the problem.
    • Change the x-size and y-size. A good value is 300 X 300 pixels.
  11. Select the size of the tracking region.
    • The choice will depend on the feature to be tracked. Larger regions generally result in more reliable, but slower tracking.
    • Choice of tracking region is a call that must be made by the operator, but typical values are 128 or 64.
  12. Dark correction may be used.
    • Dark frames must be taken to match the size of the images being taken. (This could be improved in the program.)
    • To take a dark frame point the telescope away from the sun and click on “Dark”
  13. Flat frames may be used
    • To take a flat frame point the telescope near the disk center and click on “Flat”
    • The program will make a flat field by dithering the fast mirror and taking the average of about 50 frames.
    • To improve the flat field the operator may continuously change the pointing of the telescope by a few tens of arc seconds while the flat is being taken.
  14. Take a reference image
    • Select the “Tracking” drop down menu.
    • Click on “Select Tracking Feature.”
    • A window will open instructing the operator to click on the region to track.
    • Click OK.
    • Live images of the sun will be displayed until the region is selected.
    • Move the tracking feature to the center of the fast guider image using the telescope guider controls.
    • Click on the center of the region to track. Do not click anywhere else or the program may become confused and crash.
  15. Turn on the tracking.
    • Tracking is controlled by two radio buttons.
  16. If the tracking feature is clear enough to be reliable, large motion can be downloaded from the fast guider onto the telescope controls.
    • Currently allowing the fast guider to download motion onto the slow guider will result in ~½ second intervals where the fast guider is not updated while waiting for the slow guider.


  1. Set the dome controller switch to manual
  2. Use the dome controls to move the dome slit to the east
  3. Connect the slit and flap controller cables to their respective controller boxes
  4. Close the flap first (the slit covers the flap seam)
  5. Close the slit (move the large toggle to the left)
  6. Exit TheSky application on the SolarC PC
  7. Exit TIC on LUNA
  8. Turn off the power to the dome using circuit breaker box
  9. Turn off the lights in the dome


The SolarC Usergroup has been established on the Haleakela Bulletin Board. Users may browse content and members can submit SolarC related information and documents.

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