Coordinating Time Domain Observing Programs: The TOM Toolkit
and the Observatory Status System
The ability to coordinate observations across multiple telescopes is an increasingly important capability, particularly for alert-driven time-domain
astrophysics. The workload of managing the flood of targets, observations and resulting data products can be substantial, and a number of groups have turned to software tools to assist with this task. These Target and Observation Manager Systems (TOMs) offer powerful advantages to those teams, but the development effort required can be substantial. The goal of the TOM Toolkit project is to provide a highly functional package to enable astronomers to easily build and customize TOM systems to the needs of their science. I will describe the Toolkit, and give examples of some of the science teams making use of it.
But the availability of telescopes for observations is a crucial deciding factor in any observing program. The recent shutdown of observing facilities due to the pandemic highlighted the importance of providing telescope users with this information in real-time. The Observatory Status System is a prototype of a database-driven system for serving status information publicly. I will outline the system concept and demonstrate the implementation so far.