Upcoming technical dates for the Faulkes Telescopes - important changes to how you observe!

We have just been informed of some upcoming technical maintenance and software upgrades that may affect users over the next few months: 

Essential maintenance:

Between 25 Nov - 5 Dec, LCOGT engineers will be on site testing out new software. This is essential preparation work for the upgrade of all the LCOGT systems which will happen during March 2014. They are aware of when all the RTI (real time) blocks are scheduled, and have assured us that they will only be doing day work. RTI use should be unaffected, but users should be aware that there may be some issues around this time. We will keep you informed of any problems that arise from this work - but hopefully there won't be any!

From Feb 10 2014 (for 3 weeks) FTN will be having its secondary mirror recoated, and the telescope will be unavailable. The mirror is having to be sent to the mainland USA, which is why there is a long downtime, but it should be greatly improved when it restarts operations in late March.

New control software:

1 April 2014 is the deadline for both 2m's to have upgraded software installed on them. From this point onwards there will be no more Real Time Interface (RTI), and the way you access the telescopes will be different. 

LCOGT have been working on a new real-time mode for the updated control system, which will be called "On Sky". We will post more news on this as we get it, and there will be training resources produced to allow users to see what the new interface will look like in advance of the 1st April launch date.

The key change is that users will now be able to schedule observations in a "queue-scheduled" mode, so that you can prepare your observations in advance and you can let them happen without you needing to actually control the telescope "live" - this will greatly increase the flexibility of the observing process.

There will still be the opportunity to undertake live observations, but your list of targets, exposure times etc. will need to be uploaded in advance, and you will be able to watch them taking place at the time you request (so you will not be restricted to set start and end times as you are now, and you can request observations over various times, not just 30 minute blocks).

So, big changes ahead for FT users, but we will make sure you are full informed on how things will be working after 1st April - as soon as we know!