Preparing an observing run

Submitting project information

If you have been granted observing time at APEX for your project through your partner’s institution Call for proposal, the next step is to prepare for observations.

Observations at APEX are carried out in service mode. Therefore it is necessary that you provide the APEX staff well in advance with all information they need to observe your project.

If you are applying through the MPIfR queue, you will receive instructions from your partner on how to upload this information into our observing database. Please check the latest information on APEX deadlines and observing macros in the MPIfR APEX proposals page.

For the PIs applying through the ESO, OSO and Chilean queues, this is done through the Phase-2 submission process, where you specify all information related to your project:

  • Contact information
  • Target sources
  • Frontend and Backend configuration
  • Observing modes, patterns, and related information
  • Project requirements
  • Comments or additional information

APECS setup and observing macros are created automatically from the information you submit through the phase 2 project submission form.

The processing of the completed project submission form is outlined in: Dumke M., “Service observing management at the APEX telescope“, in: Brissenden R.J., Silva D.R. (eds.), “Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems II”, Proc. of the SPIE 7016, 70161R-1 (2008)

Source and line information

If you have many target sources (more than 10) and/or want to observe many different spectral lines (more than 5 per receiver), you are asked to prepare source and line catalogs offline and to upload them together with your project submission. Please follow the syntax rules for APEX source catalogs and for APEX line catalogs . Otherwise, you can enter the source and line information directly into the fields provided in the project submission form.

If the spectral lines of your project are listed in the APEX system line catalogs, it is sufficient to give the line name in the corresponding field of the submission form. The control system will fetch the correct frequency and sideband information from the system catalog.

Pointing sources

The availability of pointing sources depends on the observing frequency, i.e. the receiver which is being used.

Heterodyne catalog

Our line pointing catalog contains stellar sources with strong emission in some molecular line transitions. Typically CO lines are used, but also other maser lines (like H2O or SiO) and HCN lines.

Continuum catalog

APECS setup and observing macros

The APEX telescope is controlled with the APEX Control System (APECS) Software developed by Dirk Muders through a Python-based command line interface. Commands can be entered interactively or by executing a macro. The command line interface also allows to make simple calculations using Python commands and to use Python control structures (e.g. loops) to control the observing program.

Those who are interested into the syntax details should consult the latest revision of the APECS User Manual.


APECS User Manual 865.33 KB 41 downloads

Revision 4.1 (Dirk Muders, MPIfR) ...

You should check sections 3.3-3.5 of the APECS user manual for some practical examples of macros that you could use in your observing run.