How to keep the Observatory Logbook
Joachim Köppen DF3GJ Kiel/Strasbourg/Illkirch Summer 2004
Please keep an exact and detailed record of whatever you do in the
Observatory's log. This may seem to you a piece of unnecessary bureaucracy
and of little use to you at the time you're doing it, but only a well-kept log
will permit any person at any later time to track down faults or identify
anything in the data!
It is quite unlikely that your data will be of Earth-shaking value, but
in any case your data is really unique so once they are
deleted, lost, or stolen, they're gone forever!!! But also, the lack of
information how they were obtained makes the data useless!
Certainly, this book-keeping will contain a lot of routine things, and
surely it will seem a bit too sophisticated for our small and relatively
simple experiment. But do take the time and do it as carefully and
meticulously as if this was the Log of a billion dollar Space Mission!
If nobody recorded that the filter had been taken out during the nighttime
observations since interference from shortwave broadcasts are unlikely
when it's dark, it might be very puzzling to explain why these data
are different from those taken the other week ...
- record start and end of your observational run
- record when you do a calibration sequence;
read off the amplitude of the chart for each calibration step
and write it down: when you do the next sequence, a glance
will tell you of problems if the values don't agree!
- determine and record the external noise level, using the calibrator
as a reference. Most of the background noise at our site is
artificial, from our building with its computers and
other electrical equipment, but also from other buildings around.
If we could find a way to reduce this level, it would improve our
chances to pick up signals from Jupiter. But we first have to know
where this noise originates and what is its nature ... so any systematic
observations could be of great help!
- keep a note of all circumstances and conditions under which the data
all information which is not directly stored in the data file, but which
is vital, necessary, important, or simply helpful in the analysis of the
data. Afterwards, we'll never be able to reconstruct this
- write it down right now! Do not relie on your memory. In the next
minute someone might come and distract you. Once forgotten it's
- make a note of anything you might have noticed in the receiver when
you set it up. Did it behave as last time?
- record all actions and changes to the apparatus you made
- write down anything abnormal or unusual, whether it be (yet another)
computer crash, or problems with the computer, even if
you are able to fix them soon.
- record any problem or fault with computer, receiver, cable, antenna ...
- keep all details of any checks, tests or supplementary measurements
you took, the results, and your conclusions or decisions
- write down anything interesting you may have noticed in the previous
- enter any thoughts, ideas, suggestions...
BTW: Any real observatory works like this, any project, any thesis....
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