[Skip to Content]


General Links
Professional Links
Australian Human Resources Institute Diversity Awards 2013 Finalist

The AAO CCD Imaging Manual

Optical imaging is no longer offered at the AAT. This document refers to facilities which have long since been decommissioned. However, as some of the information presented here (e.g. image orientations, sky brightnesses, etc.) may still be of interest, particularly to users of AAT archival data, it has been preserved though not updated.

These pages were originally compiled by Chris Tinney, now at UNSW. A hardcopy version of this manual is available as a gzipped, tar archive of Postscript files. An on-line calculator for Direct Imaging is still available, as is a master list of AAT Filters so that we can identify all filters by a unique AAO Filter # in header files, etc.


  1. Scope
  2. The Current State of Play
  3. General Information about the AAT and the AAO
  4. Acknowledgements

1. The Telescope & Optics

  1. General Description
  2. Prime Focus
    1. The Aspheric Plate
    2. The Doublet
    3. The Triplet
    4. Central Obscuration and Baffling
    5. The Autoguider
  3. Cassegrain Focus
  4. The LBL f/1 Focal Reducer
    1. The Optics
    2. Image Quality
    3. Wavelength Range
  5. Attaching Visiting Imagers to the f/3.3 Prime Focus

2. The Detectors

  1. Introduction - Summary of Properties & QE Curves
  2. General Remarks on the AAO CCDs
    1. The AAO CCD Controllers & Fast Cleanout
    2. Bias Level Estimation
    3. Linearity
  3. Tektronix (TEK) 1K Thinned
  4. Thomson (THX) 1K Unthinned : `Blue' (Metachrome Coated) & `Red'  (Uncoated)

3. The Imaging Cameras

  1. Prime Focus f/3.3 Imaging
    1. Introduction
    2. Prime Focus Cage
    3. The Camera Head
    4. The Guide Probes
    5. The Filter Wheels
    6. Focus
    7. Dewar Hold Times
  2. Prime Focus f/1 Imaging - The LBL Wide Field Imager
    1. Filters
    2. Guiding
    3. Shutter
    4. Focus
  3. Cassegrain f/8 Imaging
    NB: Includes notes on using the Cass Auxiliary CCD for acquisition

4. An Imaging Cookbook

  1. The OBSERVER System
  2. Starting OBSERVER
  3. Ending OBSERVER
  4. Running OBSERVER
  5. Typical Observing Procedures
  6. Riding in the Cage
  7. A Typical Night
  8. Preparing for your Run
  9. Operational Stuff

5. The Data You Take Away

  1. The AAT data archive
  2. Data Formats - Figaro & FITS
  3. Making your own tape.


  1. Estimating exposure times -  sky brightness -  photometric  zero-points, colour terms and extinctions
  2. Creating OFFSET RUN files
  3. Creating CCD Windows for Imaging
  4. Creating a Data Catalogue
  5. Quick-Look & On-Line Reduction (FIGARO / IRAF)
  6. Filters
  7. Sample Flat fields
  8. Blank Field list
  9. CCD Orientation
  10. Shutter Performance

Extra Figures

  1. Figure 3.1 - The Prime Focus (PF) Cage at the PF Access Position
  2. Figure 3.3 - The PF Camera Head with the TEK CCD mounted.