University of Exeter Observatory
User Note: Observatory safety
Tim Harries, September 2003
Working at night in proximity to moving equipment is potentially
hazardous, and safety is our primary concern when observing. Each
observing session is overseen by a member of academic staff or a
postgraduate demonstrator, who is designated as the Night Officer. The
Observatory is covered by the School of Physics safety rules, but in
addition there are the following:
- Students may never observe on their own
- All those intending to observe must have been shown around the dome
during daylight hours.
- Anyone wanting to go out to the dome should request permission from
the Night Officer. You should inform the Night Officer when you return
from the roof.
- All those going out on the roof at night must carry a torch.
- Access to the dome is via the non-slip pathway highlighted by yellow
lines only. Do not run on the roof, and do not leave the path.
- No-one will be allowed to observe if they are under the influence of
- Do not lean against the dome. The dome is remotely operated and can
rotate at any time, and dome rotation is preceeded by a warning tone
- In the event of a fire in the dome, those in the dome should
leave the roof immediately, activating the fire alarm point in the
mezzanine stairwell, and make their way to the normal assembly point.
Other observers should follow the normal fire procedure.
- In the event of a fire in the main building, all observers on the
roof should immediately leave the roof via the mezzanine floor
All users should also be aware of the following important aspects of
- The risers on the roof are potential trip hazards, and are
clearly marked with warning tape
- The access door to the dome is low (4 feet) - mind your head.
- There are two emergency stop switches for the dome, one is a
switch on the front of the blue DDW box (marked ALL STOP), the other
is a push button near the dome door. Make sure you are familiar with
the location of these switches and their operation.
- Be aware that the telescope can slew without warning
Observers who behave recklessly will be asked to leave the building,
and will be reported to the Head of School