The control console of the AAT
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The control console of the AAT with night assistant
Image © 1978, text © 2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

A night assistant sits at the console of the AAT. His job is to monitor the movement and activities of the telescope during the night, ensure that everything is functioning correctly, and keep a record of the telescope use. Before him is an array of buttons, lights and dials and television displays. Many of these are linked to the computer which is responsible second by second for the motions of the telescope and the dome needed to follow the stars accurately across the sky. The night assistant is familiar with this complex system and is on duty throughout the night. He is the essential link between the visiting astronomer and telescope.

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1