Procedures for Using FIRO Remotely

The whole idea behind FIRO is to enable researchers and teams to access the instruments through the internet and do the observations and data collection from the comfort of their own offices or homes. To that end, detailed instructions on how to use the instrument package can be downloaded here.

Assistance When You Need It

First-time users of FIRO will be required to use it under the supervision of a FIRO staff astronomer. As the user (or team) starts to demonstrate proficiency, the staff astronomer will recommend the researcher or team to be cleared for remote access without supervision. Once granted, a researcher or team may then access FIRO any time they have a confirmed reservation for the observatory.
Also, any time a researcher or team is using FIRO without supervision and they encounter a problem, click here for a list of contacts to help you overcome the issue that is stopping your progress.

General FIRO Procedures (Prior to Observing)

Prior to making any observations, you will need to reserve time with the observatory. Click here to access the booking calendar and select an unused block of time from the open slots. You may request an open slot, but your reservation will not be set until you receive a confirming email from the FIRO staff stating that your requested observing window has been approved.

The maximum observing slot that is allowed is four hours. If your observing plan will take less than four hours, you may certainly request a 2 or 3 hour slot. Russ, you ok with that?

Special observing projects that might take more than four hours should be discussed with FIRO staff astronomers to determine if the request can be accommodated.

Once you are granted time on FIRO, your date is set and you use the observatory at that time or you forfeit your time for that session.  For example, if you requested 3 hours on a night that had thunderstorms in the area, your session would not be rebooked. You would need to return to the booking tab and rebook your observing request, getting it approved before doing your observations.

FIRO staff will make certain that two researchers or teams do not end up with the same date and time slot request. You can be sure that when you book a slot and it is approved, you will be the only one (or team) on the telescope at that time.

Please be considerate of other users too. If for any reason your observations are not completed in your allotted time, please log off at the time you were granted and resubmit another observing request to complete your program.

Be Prepared

The cardinal rule for the efficient use of an observatory is to be prepared. Decide beforehand what star(s) you want to study that night and have reference stars selected for them as well. Know their magnitudes, spectral classes (if available) and separation and position angles as well as their precise location on the sky (using this format:  HH MM DD for right ascension, and DD MM SS for declination). Having this information at your fingertips when you start your session will help ensure a productive time at the telescope.


We also highly recommend that you select stars for study using the GDS1 tool which can be found in the Science Tab. We suggest you select stars with a GB Index (gravitational binding index) of 3.00 or less. Avoid stars closer than 1.5 arc seconds, and try to avoid companions fainter than 14.00 magnitude and/or magnitude differences of 3 or more. Useful science can be done outside these parameters, but you will probably not be working in the speckle domain but rather the CCD domain with speckle reduction software processing. If you have a research goal that goes beyond these recommended parameters, contact FIRO and let the staff guide you and assist you in target selection.

© 2018 by Russell M. Genet and The Fairborn Institute