Magellan Observer Travel

The AAO and AAL have secured funds from the Federal government's Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to ensure that Australian recipients of Magellan time from any institution in Australia awarded observing time by ATAC are able to take up that opportunity.

As soon as you are informed of your observing time allocation, please consult the Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) Visiting Observer Guide. Note that citizens of some countries must apply for a Chilean visa in advance of arrival; LCO can provide an official letter to assist with this process.

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator on each proposal to coordinate their travel and accommodation arrangements directly with the facility they will be visiting. ITSO cannot make any such arrangements on the observer's behalf.

A few handy tips for anyone planning to travel to Magellan:

  • Make sure to read the LCO Magellan Visitor information website first.
  • Fill in the visitor form as soon as possible.
  • Bring your own flashlight.
  • Most power ports are 110V USA. Some Chilean plugs are available. Bring an adaptor.
  • The El Pino offices can be hard to find and taxi drivers don’t always know which observatory travellers are referring to. Here’s a map.
  • When arriving Las Campanas Observatory you might not be met by anyone.
    - Check the white board outside the canteen for your room number. Rooms are left unlocked.
    - Also check near the board for allocated car license plate. Observers are usually assigned an automatic car to travel between the lodge and summit/offices.
  • Other local information is available in a binder in the bedrooms.
  • If you want a night lunch, remember to fill out the required form in the canteen at lunch time.
  • Check the transport schedule a few days before your planned arrival to ensure you are expected.

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. The AAO will pay the costs for one qualified observer per scheduled program. Observers who wish to bring a student along with them for the experience are welcome to do so, but in that case the AAO will not pay for any costs incurred by the student.
  3. The AAO will reimburse the cost of lowest available economy-class airfares from the observer's home city in Australia to La Serena; hotel/motel expenses in Sydney, Santiago, or La Serena; meals and incidentals; transport to/from airports in Australia and Chile; room, board, and transport costs at Las Campanas Observatory; and reasonable expenses associated with this travel (e.g. Chilean visa reciprocity fee, costs of cutting slit masks, etc.). As available funding to support all observer travel in 2018 is very limited, reimbursement may need to be limited to airfares only.
  4. To be eligible for reimbursement, the observer must provide fare quotes for approval by the International Telescopes Support Office (itso -@- prior to purchasing their tickets. The AAO 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 Chile, 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 Las Campanas Observatory observer report form has been completed (please be sure to select Yes for the option "Was the observing run part of the Australian Magellan Telescopes allocation?")

Indicative costs are:

  • Room and Board at Las Campanas (full): CLP 82,700 (~AU$170) per day.
  • Transport to and from LCO: CLP 76,700 (~AU$160) return.
  • Taxi from/to La Serena airport: CLP 5,000 (~AU$10) one way.
  • El Pino Dormitory in La Serena (no board): CLP 12,200 (~AU$25) per day.
  • For those who want to stay overnight in Santiago, Las Campanas Observatory recommends the El Vergel hotel in the Providencia district (~US$70 for a single and ~US$80 for a double). Transportation from and to the airport costs ~US$60. There are Holiday Inn and Hilton hotels right at the airport that charge ~US$200 per night.
  • IMACS slit masks: CLP 110,000 (~AU$210) each.
  • GISMO slit masks: CLP 55,000 (~AU$105) each.
  • LDSS3 slit masks: CLP 20,000 (~AU$40) each.

We strongly recommend observers purchase the local part of the trip in conjunction with the international part. If some delay occurs (and they often do!), LATAM/Qantas should take care of rearranging flights, overnight hotel in Santiago, etc. You will be expected to pay costs before departure from Las Campanas. Payment can be made in cash or by credit card.

Reciprocity fee: Citizens of Australia are required to pay a "reciprocity fee" on arrival at Santiago airport prior to passport control. This fee is at least US$117 for Australians, can be paid by credit card, and is valid for 90 days.

WARNING! If you travel to Chile on LATAM via Auckland, you may be required to obtain a transit visa for New Zealand, even if you are not planning to leave the departure gate area. Australian citizens and permanent residents do not require a transit visa, nor do citizens of countries for which a visa waiver applies. Please check visa requirements before departure, or else you may not be allowed to board the flight in Sydney and you risk missing your observing run altogether. You can avoid this transit visa requirement by taking direct flights between Sydney and Santiago on Qantas, or between Melbourne and Santiago on LATAM, but these do not operate every day.