Flexible and dynamic observing at the ESO Very Large Telescope

T. Bierwirth, B. Amarandei, G. Beccari, S. Brillant, B. Dumitru, S. Mieske, M. Pasquato, M. Pruemm, M. Rejkuba, P. Santos, L. E. Tacconi-Garman, I. Vera

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Until recently, users of ESO’s Very Large Telescope had to prepare Observing Blocks (OBs) with a standalone desktop tool. Tool support for automated OB mass production was mostly limited to imaging public surveys. Furthermore, there was no connection between the OB preparation software and other ancillary tools, such as Exposure Time Calculators, finding chart preparation software, and observatory schedule, meaning that users had to re-type the same information in several tools, and could design observations that would be incompatible with the Service Mode schedule. To address these shortcomings, we have implemented a new programming interface (API) and a state-of-the-art web application which provide observers with unprecedented flexibility and promote the usage of instrument and science-case specific tools, from small scripts to full-blown user interfaces. In this paper, we describe the software architecture of our solution, important design concepts and the technology stack adopted. We report on first user experience in both Visitor and Service Mode. We discuss tailored API programming examples, solving specific user requirements, and explain API usage scenarios for the next generation of ESO instruments. Finally, we describe the future evolution of our new approach.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationObservatory Operations
    Subtitle of host publicationStrategies, Processes, and Systems VII
    EditorsRobert L. Seaman, Alison B. Peck, Chris R. Benn
    ISBN (Electronic)9781510619616
    StatePublished - 2018
    EventObservatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems VII 2018 - Austin, United States
    Duration: Jun 11 2018Jun 15 2018

    Publication series

    NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
    ISSN (Print)0277-786X
    ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


    ConferenceObservatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems VII 2018
    Country/TerritoryUnited States


    • Automation
    • ESO
    • Observation preparation
    • Programming interface
    • VLT
    • Web application

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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