AAT Service Observing Programme


Applications for AAT Service Time are now invited before
Sunday, 1 June 2014, at 23:59
(Australian Eastern Standard Time).
Applications are welcomed from all astronomers, worldwide.

The following instruments are available for service observations:
2dF+AAOmega, IRIS2, UCLES/UHRF, and KOALA+AAOmega.

The next AAOmega FLD file deadline is 15 July, 2014.

Service Programmes expire after 18 months. Current programmes that were submitted before 01 November 2012 will be purged from the queue.


All enquiries regarding the service program should be addressed to the service manager at service@aao.gov.au.

Key Links for Proposers (and AAO Observers)

Service Proposal Directory: Status of all current programmes in the queue for each instrument. (Individual proposal files are also available here for AAO internal access.)
Service Observing Report Form: AAO internal access only.
Observing Report Archive: AAO internal access only.

General Information

How to apply
Application forms
AAT service schedules
Service proposal status summaries
Service observing reports
AAOmega/KOALA Service Information


The Australian Astronomical Observatory operates a service observing programme at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) for programmes that require up to six hours of observing time. Service time is normally allocated for programmes that require a small amount of data to complete a programme, to look at individual targets of interest, or to try out new observing techniques.

Service proposal deadlines are set three times each year: 1 February, 1 June and 1 October. The proposals are graded by a three member panel, a process which takes 3-4 weeks, before being accepted into the service programme.

In detail, the AAT service proposal system operates as follows:

  • Service proposals may be submitted for programmes that require up to six hours observing time. The following instruments will be available for service observations:
    • AAOmega
    • IRIS2
    • KOALA
    • UCLES
    • UHRF
    • HERMES
  • A summary of upcoming service nights is given below.
  • Service proposals are refereed by a 3-member panel, normally within three to four weeks of the service proposal deadline. The panel consists of an AAO staff member together with two members of ATAC. If further information is required then a service proposal may be returned to the applicant for modification.
  • The referees grade service proposals on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) and an average grade is assigned. To ensure service time remains competitive with scheduled AAT programmes, proposals assigned an average grade below 2.5 will not be executed. After a proposal has been refereed, the AAO will advise the sender of the averaged grade assigned by the referees.
  • Service proposals expire after a period of 18 months but may be resubmitted at any time.
  • AAOmega fld file deadlines are 6 weeks after the normal proposal deadline. Fld files will need to be submitted via email to the Service Manager by these dates for inclusion in any scheduling during the subsequent three month period.
  • In addition to service time, a small amount of Director's time may be available for projects which require urgent scheduling, or to try out new programmes. Users who wish to request Director's time should contact the Director by email.
  • For exceptional events, Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations may be scheduled at short notice, at the discretion of the Director. Users requesting ToO observations should contact the Director by email.
  • Data will be made available as FITS format files. Wherever possible, these will be transferred to the proposer by anonymous ftp. Alternatively, files will be written to removable storage media.
  • Information on the current status of service proposals is given in a service proposal status summary.

How to apply for service time

  • For information on the capabilities and sensitivities of AAT instruments, see the AAO Instruments and Documentation Web page which has links to instrument fact sheets, manuals and guides for proposal preparation .
  • If you plan to submit an AAOmega or KOALA service application then please read the essential AAOmega/KOALA Service Information.
  • If you need further advice then contact the AAO instrument scientist by email.
  • Fill in the appropriate service proposal application form. This should include a short scientific justification of up to 50 lines.
  • When ready, submit the form by clicking on the submit button. The information you provide will be emailed to the service proposal manager at the AAO. The AAO will acknowledge receipt of your application and will assign a service proposal number by return email.
  • If you have any problems with the service proposal system, please contact the Service Manager, by email.

Application forms

AAT service schedule

The schedule of upcoming service nights is given below. The full AAT schedule can be found on the AAT Schedule webpage. The number of service nights per semester is determined by the Australian Time Assignment Committee (ATAC).

AAT service proposal summaries

The following tables provide information on the status of service proposals accepted at the AAT. Please note that service proposals expire after a period of 18 months but may be re-submitted at any time.

Service observing reports

A nightly report is submitted by the AAO astronomer carrying out the service observing, which is normally forwarded to the PI of an observed programme.

Special AAOmega/KOALA Service Information

AAOmega is the most complex of all the instruments offered in Service Mode, and is used in two modes:

     (1) as a multi-object spectrograph, fed from prime focus, or
     (2) as spectrograph for the KOALA IFU, and fed from cassegrain focus.

Proposers using AAOmega in either mode should carefully note the following:

  • Refer to the AAOmega Instrument Page for up-to-date information about the AAOmega and its capabilities. KOALA proposers should also consult the separate KOALA Instrument Page.
  • Length: Proposals may be up to 6 hours in length.
  • Assess Your Competition: Proposals are flexibly scheduled for execution based on proposal grade, instrumental configuration, observing conditions and target availability. You will maximise the chances of your proposal getting executed if your proposal can make use of:
       (1) bright or grey time,
       (2) the most common grating configuration (385R + 580V),
       (3) less popular parts of the sky, and
       (4) less demanding conditions of seeing and transparency.
    Proposals adjudged of insufficient merit (ie. grade less than 2.5) will not be implemented. You can check the status of current proposals (and their grades) on the AAOmega Status Page to assess potential competition before you submit.
  • Preparation: Proposers should consult the guide to Preparing AAOmega Observations. Poorly-formed observing plans and/or observing files can result in programmes missing valuable observing opportunities.
  • Exposure Times: Proposals should be prepared using either the AAOmega S/N calculator for multi-object spectroscopy programmes, or the KOALA S/N calculator for the IFU. The required S/N should also be clearly stated in the proposal, so that exposure times can be adjusted (if necessary) based on latest AAOmega performance.
  • Gratings: All gratings are available for either mode. Grating changes are not possible during a night, although grating angles can be changed. Refer to the online AAOmega Grating Calculator.
  • Fibres: There are 392 science fibres + 8 guide fibres on each plate, for multi-object spectroscopy. Nod-and-Shuffle is enabled for up to 200 fibres, with or without cross-beam switching, but mini-shuffling is not yet enabled. For KOALA, various sky subtraction strategies are available depending on the nature of the source and the aim of the observations: please consult the Instrument Scientists for advice, (listed at the bottom).
  • Proposal Submission: (1) Multi-object spectroscopy proposals should be submitted using the AAOmega Service Application Form. (2) IFU proposals should be submitted using the separate KOALA Service Application Form.
  • .fld Files: AAOmega uses .fld files for positional information in multi-object spectroscopic runs. We now encourage proposers to submit these at the time of proposal submission, or at least before one of the fld deadlines for inclusion in scheduling. All fld files should conform to the guidelines on the web page Cookbook for 2dF Target Preparation using Configure.
  • KOALA Acquisition: The small KOALA field-of-view makes finding charts (5 arcmin on a side) indispensable in most cases. This is particularly so for targets that are large and extended and/or very faint. Strategies for blind acquisition off a nearby bright star should be given in these cases.
  • Queries related to AAOmega should be directed to the Instrument Scientist, Sarah Brough, sarah.brough@aao.gov.au.