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Applying for Observing Time at the AAO


The main proposal deadline for AAT time in Semester 14B (August 2014 - January 2015) is:
  Monday, 17 March 2014, at 17:00
(Australian Eastern Standard Time, i.e. UTC + 10 hrs).

Proposals to ATAC can be submitted from 1 March 2014 through until the deadline using the new web form, and are welcomed from all astronomers worldwide.

Applying for time on the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT)


Applications for observing time on the AAT are assessed by a single joint time assignment committee - the Australian Time Assignment Committee (ATAC). Application information and the submission form can be found on the ATAC's AAT application page. Important announcements concerning instrument availability, scheduling policies, and guidelines for visitor and override proposals are available from the Policies page.

Submissions using the old La TeX form will not be accepted. The AAO only accepts submissions made through the online AAT proposal form.

Before applying, you should check the current status and availability of all AAT instruments, and the existing commitments to long-term and large programs. If you want more information on the AAO's instruments then you should look at the instrumentation pages. There are also various visitor instruments which can be used by arrangement with their owners, and subject to the approval of the AAO Director. You should note that some of these have special requirements, such as peculiar cryogens for example, which the AAO does not itself provide. You will need to make provision for such materials yourself in collaboration with the owners where required. If you plan to bring your own instrument and have not previously done so then you should read these guidelines before applying.

All applicants are required to add on a 33% allowance for bad weather to the total time you estimate you will need to reach the desired signal-to-noise, plus readout, slewing, and acquisition time. AAO staff astronomers will derive their own estimate, then apply this same 33% factor in their technical assessment for ATAC.

Applications to ATAC for override projects will also be considered. These may, for example, represent observations of targets of opportunity, or short monitoring observations of known sources at specific epochs. Special rules apply to projects requesting override status, as well as those seeking Long Term status.

No special separate allocation of telescope time is made to AAO staff, though 10% is reserved for use at the Director's discretion. This is mainly used for instrument testing and commissioning, maintenance and engineering work, and to pay back any programs which lose significant amounts of observing time due to instrument failure.

If the PI, and at least half the observing team are from European countries, they may be eligible for support through the OPTICON Trans-national Access Programme. Eligible proposals should be submitted to the OPTICON TAC (which usually has a deadline 2 weeks earlier) instead of through the AAO and ATAC. Proposals submitted in this way will automatically be eligible for non-OPTICON AAT time (without OPTICON funding).

Information about travel to Sydney and to the AAT is available from the Observer Travel and Accommodation page. Australian-based observers can receive Travel and Accommodation support from the AAO.

Daytime observing is possible, with certain constraints. Applicants should seek prior approval of the Director if they are unsure as to whether their program is allowed. Observers who wish to make daylight observations should state this specifically in their application for observing time.

The AAO strongly encourages students to attend and participate in observing runs. However, all students must be accompanied throughout by their supervisor, or a suitably-qualified colleague (postdoc-level or above). Under certain circumstances, suitably-experienced graduate students may observe on their own at the AAT, but only with the prior written permission of the AAO Director.

Lastly, all applicants should be aware that it is the policy of the AAO that any backup project must use the same instrument as the main project.

The closing dates for applications are:

Semester Deadline
February-July (A) 15 September
August-January (B) 17 March

Service Observations

If projects require no more than >6 hours of observing time, they can be performed in service time. Applications for service time are made electronically direct to the AAO and reviewed every three months. See the AAT Service Observing page for more details.


United Kingdom Schmidt Telescope

With effect from 1 August 2005, community access to the UKST will cease, and no new applications for UKST time are being accepted. The RAVE consortium will continue to have access to the UKST on a user-pays basis. Any other user group interested in gaining long-term access to the UKST and 6dF spectrograph should contact the AAO Director.


Useful Resources for Applicants

The links below go to pages prospective observers may find useful in preparing proposals. In particular, we advise all observers (both new and experienced) to visit the instrument pages as these are regularly updated and provide quick guides to the instrument capabilities and sensitivities (including signal-to-noise calculators in most instances) to aid in proposal preparation.


Sarah Martell, AAT Technical Secretary to ATAC, aatts -@- aao.gov.au