AAT Service Observing Programme



Service Mode Operations Cease on August 1st

Service mode on the AAT will cease on August 1st, 2018.

Effective from June 4th, we will stop accepting new service mode proposals. We will endevour to complete service mode programs that have been accepted prior to this date.

New rolling application mode

Applications for AAT Service Mode Time will be accepted on a continuous basis starting 1st February, 2015. Proposals will be reviewed and graded as they are received. Review could take up to four weeks, after which the primary investigator will be notified of their grade. Successful proposals will be added to the service queue at that time. Proposals will remain active until observed, or until 18 months** has passed since they were first added to the queue. 

Other aspects of the service program will remain the same. The program is described in full detail below.

Proposals are accepted through the AAO's Proposal management system, Lens.

** Due to the transition that the AAO will go through on July 1st, 2018, all service programs may be required to end on 31 July. Note that we hope that we will be able to honour the full 18 months for all programs (both old ones and new ones) - a definite policy will be put in place before 31 July.


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

Service proposals are accepted on a continuous basis. The proposals are graded by a three member panel, a process which takes  about 4 weeks, before being accepted into the service program.

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

  • Service proposals may be submitted for programs that require up to six hours observing time.
  • The following instruments will be available for service observations:
  • Applications are invited from all astronomers, worldwide.
  • Upcoming service nights are listed on the AAT Schedule.
  • Service proposals are refereed by a 3-member panel, normally within four weeks of the proposal being received. 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 programs, 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.
  • "FLD" files for 2dF (HERMES or AAOmega) should be sumitted via the Lens tool
  • Data will be made available as FITS format files. Wherever possible, these will be transferred to user through Cloudstor. 

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 being executed if your proposal can make use of:

  • bright or grey time,
  • the most common grating or resolution configuration for instruments which can be reconfigured,
  • less popular parts of the sky, and
  • less demanding conditions of seeing and transparency.


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

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 need further advice then contact the AAO instrument scientist by email.
  • Applications are made through the AAO's Lens Propsoal Management System
  • It generally takes up to four weeks for each service mode proposal to be graded.
  • If the average grade is above 2.5, the program status changes from submitted to pending.

Current Service Observing Programs 

Information on current service observing programs can be found here.

Preparing for service mode observations

Once your proposal has been accepted, you can use you Lens account to submit your observing instructions, and other information, such as 2dF FLD files or finding charts.

  • After logging into lens, select your program ID and then Scheduling/Observing Instructions
  • You'll see a text box where you can enter instructions and an upload button where you can upload files
  • Once submitted, send an e-mail to service@aao.gov.au.
  • We will review the material. If everyhing is in order, the program status will change from pending to queued.
  • The observing instructions can be edited at any time, even before the proposal is accepted.

When observations are taken, we'll fill out the observing log and make the data available to you via the AARnet cloudstor facility.

Once all observations are done, the program status changes from queued to completed. If the observations are not done within 18 months of when the progam was first listed as pending, the program status is changed to expired.


AAT service proposal summaries for programs submitted before November 1st, 2014

The following tables provide information on the status of service proposals accepted at the AAT before November 1st 2014. Please note that service proposals expire after a period of 18 months but may be re-submitted at any time. Once all programs that were submitted before November 1st, 2014 are completed, we will no longer maintain the links listed below.

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 program.

Special Information for specific instruments

2dF (HERMES or AAOmega)

  • Fibres: There are 392 science fibres + 8 guide fibres on each plate, for multi-object spectroscopy.
  • Sky Subtraction: Nod-and-Shuffle sky subtraction is not available for Service Time programs, so dedicated sky fibres must be used.
  • .fld Files: The 2dF robot uses .fld files for positional information for multi-object spectroscopy. 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".fld" files that the configure software cannot load may not be observed.


  • All gratings are available. Grating changes are generally not possible during a night, although grating angles can be changed. Refer to the online AAOmega Grating Calculator.