Keck Observer Travel

There is no queue or service mode offered on the Keck telescopes. Observations are normally carried out in-person by the PI and/or one or more of their Co-Investigators remotely from the Keck Observatory headquarters in Waimea, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The AAO and AAL have secured funds from the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to ensure that Australian-based recipients of KTAC time in 2016A-2017B on the Keck telescopes are able to take up these opportunities. Recipients of KTAC time in 2018A will not be eligible for travel support from ITSO. Accommodation is available at the Visiting Scientist Quarters (VSQ). Policies for reimbursement of travel costs are specified below.

Suitably-qualified observers (i.e. someone who has observed with that instrument from Waimea in the past 2 years) are strongly encouraged to carry out their observations using the dedicated remote observing facilities at either the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, or at the ANU's Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra. Please contact David Fisher (dfisher -@- or Brad Tucker (Brad.Tucker -@-, with a cc: to ITSO (itso -@- several weeks in advance of your run to make use of their remote observing facility. You will also be required to fill out the "Mainland Observing Request" from your WMKO Observer Login page. Additionally, observers or collaborators who may be unable to travel to Hawaii are welcome to make use of these facilities, provided a suitably-experienced observer is present in Waimea. Observers who make use of remote observing facilities within Australia instead of travelling to Waimea will also be reimbursed for any travel and accommodation costs involved as below.

As soon as you are informed of your observing time allocation, please consult the Keck Observatory guide to planning your observations. It is the responsibility of the PI on each proposal to coordinate their travel and accommodation arrangements directly with the W. M. Keck Observatory. ITSO cannot make any such arrangements on the observer's behalf.

The following policies apply to the reimbursement of observer travel expenses:

  1. The observer must be affiliated with an Australian university or research organisation.
  2. ITSO will pay the costs for one qualified observer per scheduled program/run. If a student is PI on the scheduled proposal, and has had no prior observing experience, then ITSO will pay the costs for both the student and their supervisor (or a suitably qualified designate). Alternatively the student may travel to Waimea on their own, provided their supervisor is able to participate from one of the dedicated remote observing facilities at SUT or ANU. Observers who wish to bring a student along with them for the experience are welcome to do so, but in that case the ITSO will not pay for any costs incurred by the student.
  3. ITSO will reimburse the cost of lowest available economy-class airfares from the observer's home city in Australia to Hilo or Kona; hotel expenses in Honolulu or Sydney if a stopover is required; meals and incidentals; transport to/from airports in Australia and Hawaii; room costs at the VSQ; and other associated costs (e.g. US visa waiver fee).
  4. To be eligible for reimbursement, the observer (and their supervisor if they are a student) must provide fare quotes for approval by the International Telescopes Support Office (itso -@- prior to purchasing their tickets. ITSO reserves the right not to reimburse the full cost of items it considers unreasonable, or not associated with observing travel.
  5. The AAO will reimburse the observer's institution on receipt of an invoice addressed to the International Telescopes Support Office, together with copies of receipts for all costs being claimed. The GST component of costs incurred within Australia may be claimed (no GST is payable on costs incurred in the USA, or on international airfares); however an institution may not claim an additional 10% GST component on top of the total GST-inclusive costs. Reimbursement of will also be contingent upon confirmation that the Post Observing Comment Form has been completed.

Indicative costs are:

  • Visiting Scientist Quarters (no meals): US$75 per night.
  • Taxi/shuttle between Kona and Waimea: US$80 - US$130 one way.
  • Rental car: US$50 - US$80 per day.
  • Honolulu airport hotels: ~US$170 per night.

We strongly recommend observers purchase the inter-island flights in conjunction with the international part. If some delay occurs Qantas/Hawaiian (but usually not JetStar) should take care of rearranging flights, overnight hotel in Honolulu/Sydney, etc. You will be expected to pay VSQ costs before departure from Waimea. Payment can be made by credit card.