AAO Astronomy Workgroup - Support Astronomer Guidelines
- AAO Client
- Before the Run
the First Night
- During the Run
- How long should you
- After the run
1. AAO Client Service Charter
The AAO Client Service
Charter states under its "Instrumentation"
- An AAO support astronomer will get in touch with you at least four
weeks before your observing run to confirm the details of your run.
- We will provide the instrumentation at the start of the evening that
will enable you to undertake your scientific program as specified.
- If requested, a support astronomer will be present for the first
night to facilitate your obtaining the best possible data.
- We will make available full documentation to guide you in carrying
out your observations.
As AAO Support Astronomers, we must meet these targets in all our support
activities before, during and after observing runs. The following information
applies to all observers. Specific instruments may have additional
Successful observing with the AAO's telescopes is the core
mission of the Observatory, and all activities in support of realising this
goal take first priority.
2. Before the run
- You must contact the observers at least 4 weeks before each run, and
point them to the relevant web pages of information for observers. You
- send the observers a copy of their Instrument Request Form (IRF).
- review the instrument set-up proposed, and encourage the observers to
do likewise. Any deficiencies in, or changes to, the set-up as
displayed on the Instrument Request Form must be forwarded to Site,
usually via the Site Operations Manager, Chris McCowage
(cmc -@- aaocbn.aao.gov.au) as soon as possible, and not less than
1 week before the run.
- encourage the observers to arrive at the telescope the night before
their run starts.
- ensure that students will be accompanied by their supervisor, or
a suitably-experienced colleague (postdoc-level or above).
may only observe on their own at the AAT with the prior written
permission of the AAO Director.
- You should also review the Technical Assessment for their proposal
(which can be found at /local/localwww/ta). Contact the AATAC
Technical Secretary if there were any matters raised which needed
to be followed up.
- A standard letter which covers these issues (and a few others) is
available here for use as a template.
the first night of your support run
- Support astronomers (and scheduled observers) will usually arrive at
the telescope on the night before the first night on which they are
supporting. They will therefore usually meet at dinner on this night,
and can verify the observer's plans, discuss instrument setup and possibly
begin introduction to the instrument.
- If for any reason you can't be present on the night before,
then you must be present at the AAT by no later than 1pm of the first night
of observing, and you must inform the observer of this and arrange a time
and place to meet on the day of the first night's observing, so you can
verify the observer's plans, discuss instrument setup and begin introduction
to, and setup of, the instrument.
- During the day before the first night of an observer's run the AAT day
staff will endeavour to set up the instrument as requested via the IRF.
Support astronomers will come to the control room by 1-2pm to assist in, or
take over, this process from the day staff, along with the scheduled
- You must give allobservers present a safety briefing on the
- You must explain to observers where to find the name of the scheduled
Afternoon Technician, that (if you are not available for any reason) the
Afternoon Technician should be the observer's first contact for assistance,
and how to contact the Afternoon Technician.
- You must start the observers on any calibrations or test exposures
required to ensure the instrument will be ready to start observing as soon
as possible after sunset.
4. During the run
- Support astronomer roles vary widely with instruments, their
commissioning status, etc. You should ensure you are familiar with the
degree of involvement you are expected to have for your instrument in
advance of the run.
5. How long you stay for
- Instrument support is scheduled in one of four categories. How long you
are at the telescope will depend on which category the proposal is scheduled
in as indicated on the AAT schedule:
N - No astronomical support will be provided at the
telescope, but you will provide support as required before, during, and after
the run. You should provide contact details (e.g. mobile phone number)
so that the scheduled observer can ask questions after they arrive at
the telescope (especially as they are setting up the instrument). Using
remote access software like VNC, it
is possible to monitor the status of any instrument from Epping, and even
interact with it yourself. See the Software group for help with this.
F - First night astronomical support will be provided at the
telescope. You will make yourself available to provide an introduction to the
AAT, the instrument, and the instrument's setup from 1pm in the afternoon of
the first night. You will make yourself available at the telescope to help
during the first scheduled night, until the observers are sufficiently
confident with the instrumentation for you to depart. This is the observer's
call, not your's, to make. In any case, you will generally not leave the AAT
until after 1am on the first night of observing. Thereafter, make sure the
observers know how to reach you (e.g. mobile phone number) at any time of
the day or night if they have questions; in case of problems or faults, they
should still contact the Afternoon Technician or Night Assistant in the first
Y - Full support will be provided at the telescope on all nights
of the run. You will be available to assist with introduction to the AAT, the
instrument, and instrument setup, from 1pm in the afternoon of the first
night. You will make yourself available at the AAT to help throughout the
run, and ensure the observers know how to find you throughout the run.
A - Implies that an AAO staff member is a co-investigator on the
proposal. In this case this AAO astronomer has full reponsibility for the
provision of all required support at the AAT for this program. If not
sufficiently experienced with the instrument themselves, they must make
arrangements for training in advance of their run.
- At all times when you are supporting at the AAT, you should keep the
scheduled observers and AAT night assistant informed as to your whereabouts.
If observers are happy for you to carry out your own work, or work elsewhere
in the building, this is OK. Once again, however, this
is the observer's call to make. You must ask them if working
without you, or your working elsewhere, is acceptable.
6. After the run
- Ensure the observers fill out an Observer's Report Form before
they leave the mountain. If not present on their final night, it is advisable
to call the AAT to check on progress, and remind them of how to backup their
data and the need to fill in the Observer's Report Form.
- If observations were carried out as part of the AAT Service Program,
the PIs should be informed about the amount and the quality of the data taken,
Report Form (password-protected). If the data is of questionable quality,
check whether the applicants will find it useful. As a service observer,
it is also your responsibility to distribute data (raw, and pipeline-reduced
where available) to the service applicants on their preferred media. For
modest-sized datasets, anonymous ftp from Epping is quicker and more
cost-effective than air-mail of CDs or DVDs.
- Observers are responsible for making their own data copies, usually
on CD or DVD using the dvdwrite utility on
- In general, observers should only ftp reduced data back
to their home institutions.
- If the night was a Director's night, you should email the Director
with a summary of the night's use.
Stuart Ryder, sdr -@- aao.gov.au