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Preparing for an observing run

Before arriving

The AAO does not have any funds for visiting observers. Funds for all expenses for observers and equipment must be sought from elsewhere. Liquid helium, postal charges for computer printouts and tapes, and the cost of tapes are also the responsibility of the observer. However, the AAO does provide some consumable supplies, e.g. photographic plates, dry ice, nitrogen, liquid nitrogen and computer supplies.

Detailed information on instrumentation can be found in the manual prepared for each instrument (see § 1.5 Documentation). These are available on request from the Epping Laboratory. A support astronomer, who has up-to-date knowledge of the instrumentation to be used, will be in touch with you a few weeks before your observing run to discuss your requirements. You can find out who your support astronomer is, in case you need to contact them youself, by consulting the latest AAT schedule (see the WWW Schedule Page) on which the e-mail address of the support astronomer is shown in the last column.

Any special requirements should be stated in the observing proposal and discussed with appropriate staff as early as possible &endash; once again your support astronomer is probably a good place to start. If you need prolonged daytime access to an instrument on the telescope (except during the afternoon immediately before your first night) an advance request is essential. Any backup program must make use of the instrumentation requested in the original proposal.

At the telescope

On arrival at the AAT dome, go to the Reception office (first floor) where you will be directed to appropriate staff who will ensure you have all the technical assistance you need to operate successfully.

You will also find information on how to use the telephone system. Direct-dial overseas calls cannot be made from the dome, but it is possible to make international calls through an operator (you must pay for these calls). The fax machine is also located on the first floor and telexes can be sent via the ANU terminal. Mail is collected once a day and postage stamps are available. Check at the office for up-to-date details.

The first floor has several offices for visiting observers as well as the library, chart and catalogue room and a measuring room. Other levels of the dome are described in more detail in § 2.10.

During observing runs, a night assistant is in charge of the telescope. This assistant has absolute power to shut the telescope down and/or close the dome for reasons of telescope safety. The night assistant will operate the telescope and control system to acquire and track an object and will assist the observer as directed. The observer will normally be responsible for the actual data taking and control of the instrumentation.

If requested ahead of time, a support astronomer will be present at the telescope to advise inexperienced or infrequent users of the telescope.

After the observing run

Plates : All observational material provided by the AAT remains the property of the AAT Board. Observers taking direct plates are requested to permit copies to be made at the Epping Laboratory for the plate archive. Data from such plates will not be used without the observer's permission for a period of two years after exposure. Original plates should be returned after active use, and in any case after two years. In exceptional circumstances this period may be extended by arrangement with the Director.

Magnetic Tapes : The AAO no longer provides magnetic tapes to observers free of charge. The Observatory is also unable to make tapes of data for observers at the end of their run. Guidelines on how to create your own data tape can be found in Appendix C. All AAO data is also archived, and will be made available to any astronomer who requests it after two years, unless a special delay is obtained from the Director by the original observer.

Publications : Publications using data obtained from the AAO should carry a suitable acknowledgement, the exact form of which is left to the author.

Authors are asked to send three reprints of any published paper using AAT or Schmidt data to the Librarian at Epping, so that a complete record can be maintained (a list is included in each Annual Report). Preprints are also welcomed. The AAO does not pay any publication charges for visiting observers, but may sometimes provide photographic help.

Contributions to the AAO Newsletter from visiting observers are always welcome.



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This Page Last updated: Feb 21, 1996, by Chris Tinney.