Obstech 2018

Group photo

The International Telescopes Support Office in conjunction with the Australian Astronomical Observatory, Macquarie University, and the European Southern Observatory, held the 2018 ITSO/AAO Observational Techniques Workshop from midday on Monday April 30 to midday on Thursday May 3, 2018 at the AAO Headquarters in North Ryde, Sydney.

The workshop was designed to be an introduction to the optical and infrared facilities available to the Australian astronomical community, focusing primarily on the AAT and ESO facilities, and included tutorials and demonstrations where participants were able to get their hands on real data and learn how to reduce it. We were privileged to be joined by 3 experts from ESO for these sessions:

  • Dr Lowell Tacconi-Garman (Deputy Head of the User Support Department)
  • Dr Martino Romaniello (Head of the Back-end Operations Department)
  • Dr Wolfram Freudling (Head of the Science Data Products Group)

Topics covered in the workshop included:

  • Instrumentation available on the European Southern Observatory's La Silla and Paranal Observatories and the Anglo-Australian Telescope.
  • Imaging and photometry.
  • Characteristics of optical and infrared detectors, and signal-to-noise calculations.
  • Spectroscopy, including IFU spectroscopy.
  • Infrared observations, including Natural and Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics.
  • Proposal writing, and how to impress the Time Allocation Committee.
  • Preparing your observations, and where to get help.
  • Data reduction using different packages, including ESO Reflex, astropy, R, and 2dFDR.
  • Analysing and promoting your results.

The workshop was open to all but preference was given to Australia-based students and early-career researchers. Thanks to generous sponsorship from AAL and the Australian government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, there was no registration fee. Lunch (Monday through Wednesday), morning and afternoon teas was provided to all registrants.There was a workshop dinner on the Wednesday evening (6:30-8:30PM) - see the Dinner tab above for more information.

Code of Conduct

The AAO requires that participants at all our events abide by the Astronomical Society of Australia's Code of Conduct. By registering for this workshop you acknowledge that you have read this code of conduct and will respect it. Anyone who wishes to report a violation of this policy is asked to speak confidentially to one of the meeting organisers.

Remote participation

Live streaming of some sessions may be arranged on request. Please contact the organisers as below.

Organising Committee

  • Devika Kamath (Chair, Macquarie U./AAO)
  • Caroline Foster (U. Sydney)
  • Stuart Ryder (AAO)
  • Richard McDermid (Macquarie U.)
  • Tayyaba Zafar (AAO)
  • Chris Lidman (ANU)
  • Blaise Anthony Kuo Tiong (Macquarie U.)

  • Dylan Bollen (Macquarie U.)

  • James Tocknell (Macquarie U.)

  • Stefania Barsanti (Macquarie U.)
  • Tiffany Day (Macquarie U.)

  • Wilfred Gee (Macquarie U.)


Please direct all enquiries to the Chair of the Organising Committee, Dr Devika Kamath (devika.kamath@mq.edu.au).

2018 Workshop Program

Click here for a PDF version.

Monday 30 April 2018

11:00am - 1:00pm Registration (Lunch available from noon)  
1:00pm - 1:10pm Introduction Devika Kamath
1:10pm - 1:30pm AAO welcome Andrew Hopkins

Session 1: Observational Techniques in Astronomy

1:30pm - 2:00pm Users guide to detectors Kyler Kuehn
2:00pm - 2:30pm Spectroscopy Christian Schwab
2:30pm - 3:00pm Integral Field Spectroscopy Sarah Sweet
3:00pm - 3:30pm Photometry Lee Spitler
3:30pm - 4:00pm Coffee break  
4:00pm - 4:30pm Adaptive Optics Francois Rigaut
4:30pm - 5:00pm Polarimetry Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer
5:00pm - 5:30pm Infrared astronomy Stuart Ryder

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Session 2: ESO

9:00am - 9:30am ESO Primer Lowell Tacconi-Garman
9:30am - 10:00am ESO Instruments Lowell Tacconi-Garman
10:00am - 10:30am Observing preparation Lowell Tacconi-Garman
10:30am - 11:00am Coffee break  
11:00am - 11:30am Different flavours of data Martino Romaniello
11:30am - 12:30pm ESO Science Archive Martino Romaniello
12:30pm - 1:30pm Lunch break  
1:30pm - 3:00pm ESO data reduction: Introduction Wolfram Freudling
3:00pm - 3:30pm Coffee break  
3:30pm - 5:30pm ESO data reduction tutorial: FORS2 Wolfram Feudling

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Session 2 (cont.): ESO

9:00am - 10:30am ESO data reduction tutorial 2: X-Shooter/MUSE
Wolfram Freudling
10:30am - 11:00am Coffee break  
11:00am - 12:30pm ESO data reduction tutorial 3: Customising workflows   
Wolfram Freudling
12:30pm - 1:30pm Lunch break  

Session 3: AAT

 1:30pm - 2:00pm AAT instruments & future operations Chris Lidman
 2:00pm - 3:00pm Astronomy made easy with Python Andy Green
 3:00pm - 3:30pm Coffee break  
 3:30pm - 4:00pm 2dF Configure Tayyaba Zafar
 4:00pm - 5:00pm 2dFDR
Scott Croom
 5:00pm - 5:30pm Veloce & precise Doppler velocities Duncan Wright

Thursday 3 May 2018

Session 4: Astronomy made easy

9:00am - 10:00am An introduction to R Luke Davies

Session 5: Data archives

10:00am - 10:30am AAO Data Central Simon O'Toole
10:30am - 11:00am Coffee break  

Session 6: Empowering astronomers

11:00am - 11:30am Future facilities Mita Brierley, James Murray,
    Sarah Brough
11:30am - 12:00pm Science communication Angel Lopez-Sanchez

Session 7: Panel discussion

12:00pm - 1:00pm Large Surveys Luke Davies, Gayandhi De Silva,
    Nuria Lorente, Kyler Kuehn
1:00pm - 1:15pm Conclusion Stuart Ryder

OTW 2018 Participants List

First Name Surname Affiliation
Tayyaba Zafar AAO
Devika Kamath Macqurie University / AAO
Madeline Marshall University of Melbourne
Alex Cameron The University of Melbourne
Caroline Foster The University of Sydney
Chris Lidman ANU
Stuart Ryder AAO
Tiffany Day Macquarie University
James Tocknell Macquarie University
Stefania Barsanti Macquarie University
Angel Lopez-Sanchez AAO / MQU
Dylan Bollen Macquarie University
Tania Barone Australian National University
Donna Burton University of southern qld
Martino Romaniello ESO
Sarang Shah University of Canterbury
Lowell Tacconi-Garman ESO
Lara Cullinane RSAA, ANU
Sarah Brough UNSW
Jens Kammerer RSAA/ANU
Kyler Kuehn AAO
Wilfred Gee Macquarie University
Duncan Wright University of Southern Queensland
Simon O'Toole AAO
Gayandhi De Silva AAO/USyd
Scott Croom University of Sydney
Blaise Kuo Tiong Macquarie University
Andy Green AAO
James Murray Astronomy Australia Limited
Mita Brierley Astronomy Australia Ltd
Christoph Bergmann UNSW
Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer UNSW
Jinglin Zhao University of New South Wales
Anishya Harshan University of New South Wales
Francois Rigaut ANU
Luke Davies University of Western Australia
Sara Webb Swinburne
Graeme Melville UNSW
Wolfram Freudling European Southern Observatory
Sarah Sweet Swinburne

How to access our North Ryde premises: for visitors and for couriers

Airport Shuttle bus

For visitors arriving from Kingsford Smith Sydney Airport, there are a number of Airport Shuttle buses that service the North Ryde area. The shuttle service costs around $54 per trip, with cost able to be split between passengers if more than one individual is going to AAO. If you would like to book a shuttle service, please go to Airport Shuttle North's website.

Travelling by car

Approaching from the city, go over the Harbour Bridge or through the Harbour Tunnel then take the Lane Cove Tunnel. Exit the Lane Cove Tunnel to the left onto Epping Rd. At the second set of traffic lights turn right, this is Delhi Road. More detailed driving instructions can be found by going to Whereis or referring to the Google map below.

Please note Sydney has many toll roads and they are cashless; cars passing these tolls need an electronic tag on their vehicle. Visitors to Sydney may obtain visitor passes for automatic tolls by registering for a pass on RTA's My E-Toll website or the Roam website.

For more information please visit Sydney Motorways.

By taxi

A taxi from Sydney to AAO North Ryde office costs about $55. From the airport expect to pay around $90.

By bus

Buses from the city such as bus numbers 288 and 292 cross or pass near to Delhi Road on their way along Epping Road to Epping Station (and vice versa). The 545 bus from Chatwsood to Parramatta stops right outside the AAO. Details of routes, current timetables and fares can be obtained from transportnsw.info.

By train

A train from Sydney to North Ryde station will take about 35 minutes, and it is then a 700 metre walk to the office. For more information please visit transportnsw.info.

The street address of the Sydney Office is:

105 Delhi Rd
North Ryde NSW 2113

AAO North Ryde

Accommodation near AAO North Ryde Office

All attendees will need to make their own travel and accommodation bookings.

The tables below show hotels used by observers and guests of the AAO.

Cost per night
Check in/out times
Available transport
Other Information

Quest North Ryde

58-62 Delhi Rd, North Ryde

Ph: +61-2-8899 8888

Across the road


Check in: 2pm

Check out: 10am

Within walking distance

Close to the North Ryde Office


North Ryde Guest House

22 David Ave, North Ryde

Ph: +61 0478 198 133


$97-$129 per night (with shared bathroom), $105-$139 per night (with private bathroom)

Check in: 2.00pm

Check out: 10.30am

Epping Rd Bus stop - 851m or

Macquaire Park Train Station - 1km

Self-catered accommodation

Internet and parking included

The Charrington of Chatswood

22 Centennial Ave, Chatswood

Ph: +61 2 9419 8461


 $124 - $159

Check in: 2.00pm

Check out: 11.00am

 Fuller/Jenkins Rd Bus Stop - 400m

Chatswood Train Station - 440m

Some rooms with free high speed internet 

The Ranch Hotel

Cnr Epping & Herring Rd, Marsfield

Ph: + 61 2 9887 2411



Check in: 2.00pm

Check Out: 10.00am 

Macquaire Uni Train Station - 635m

Epping Rd Bus Stop - short walk

All rooms with double bed and single bed,

Travelodge Hotel Macquarie North Ryde

81 Talavera Rd, North Ryde

Ph: +61 2 8874 5200



Check in: 2.00pm

Check out: 10.00am

Epping Rd bus stop - 851m walk

Macquarie Park train station - 1km

Booking via their web page will give you a discounted price

Prices above are inclusive of GST, per room per night, and are subject to change. Please call hotel to confirm costs.

For other accommodation options in the Sydney area, please check sites such as wotif and airbnb.


Observational Techniques Workshop Registration

Thanks to generous sponsorship from AAL and the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, the registration for the workshop is FREE. Lunch (on Tuesday and Wednesday), morning and afternoon teas will be provided to all registrants.

(Wednesday, May 2nd: 6:30-8:30pm)
Any special requests and dietary requirements.

The Workshop dinner will be held on Wednesday 2nd May at 465 The Avenue in Chatswood from 7.00pm. A full range of vegetarian and vegan options will be available. Participants will need to pay for their own meal and drinks at the restaurant. A booking has been made for all those who have registered for the dinner. If you would like to attend the dinner and have not registered please send an email to devika.kamath -@- mq.edu.au.


Getting to the dinner venue from the AAO  takes ~15 minutes from the AAO - either catch the 545 bus on Delhi Road towards Chatswood, or take the train from the North Ryde station. A Google map of the location is available.