AAT Call for proposals 2018A

2018A    Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) Call for Proposals

The main proposal deadline for AAT in Semester 2018A (February 2018 - July 2018) is:

15 September 2017, at 17:00
Australian Eastern Standard Time, i.e. UTC + 10 hrs

Proposals to Australian Time Allocation Committee (ATAC) can be submitted until the deadline using the Lens proposal form (available at this page) and are welcomed from all astronomers worldwide.

Applying for AAT Telescope Time through ATAC

Important information for applicants

  • Time available for new proposals: because of existing Large Programs and other obligations, there are roughly 110 nights available for new proposals in Semester 18A (17 dark, 24 grey, 69 bright).
  • The current Large AAT Programs, the SAMI and DEVILS surveys, have been allocated 38 dark or grey nights at certain RAs. New programs with targets outside of these RAs are more likely to be scheduled. The RA information for Large AAT Programs is available at this link.
  • A separate call for Large AAT Programs has been made for programs starting in 2018A. These are programs requesting at least 50 nights. More information is available at this link.
  • Proposals for Long Term AAT Programs are welcome in 2018A. These are programs that span multiple semesters. More information is available at this link.
  • The AAO is planning maintenance on the 2dF fibre cable and on HERMES in Semester 18A. Both the 2dF-fed AAOmega and HERMES will be unavailable from February to May 2018. The estimated schedule for this work is: 5 February to 23 May for HERMES and 12 February to 6 May for the 2dF positioner. Other instruments that use AAOmega but not the 2dF fibre feed (e.g. SAMI, KOALA) will still be available during this period.
  • From May 2018, it is expected the Veloce spectrograph will be available for shared-risk observing. Details on the instrument are given below.
  • A Target of Opportunity mode is now available with instruments using the 2dF positioner (AAOmega, HERMES) and KOALA. IRIS2 is still available in this mode. The Target of Opportunity policy is available at this link.
  • The UCLES spectrograph has been decommissioned.
  • To help address issues associated with unconscious bias (e.g. see study at this link) the format of the proposals has been changed: (1) PI information will not be provided to ATAC, (2) investigator information will be provided at the end of the proposal, and (3) the list of investigators will be sorted alphabetically. Lead investigators should avoid disclosing their identity in the science or technical justification sections. Feedback on these changes are welcome and should be sent to AAT Technical Secretary (aatts@aao.gov.au) .
  • Based upon historical weather trends, about 33% of time is lost to bad weather. Proposers are therefore required to multiply their request by a factor of 1.5 to allow for time lost to weather.

Lens proposal submission system

The AAO uses an online proposal submission system, known as Lens, which is available at this link. This system is a user account based system, which will allow for improved security and better tracking of past and current proposals. There is an FAQ available for Lens, available via the FAQ tab in Lens itself, or via the direct link http://www.aao.gov.au/lens/faq

All new users must register with the system at https://www.aao.gov.au/lens/register

Note that users cannot be added to proposals if they are not registered in Lens. Please make sure that all investigators on a proposal have registered well before the deadline!

For any queries or comments, please email lens [@] aao.gov.au .

Historical oversubscription rates

The figure below shows the historical oversubscription rates at the AAT. Large program allocations are excluded from these calculations and error bars are from Poisson statistics. The fluctuations are largely dominated by whether Large programs were already scheduled when the call for proposals was made. Numbers indicate the number of nights that were available in each semester.

AAT subscription rates

The Veloce spectrograph

Veloce will be a stabilized, high-resolution (R~80000) echelle spectrograph. Initially Veloce will have only one of its three possible 'arms', each covering a different wavelength region, the first arm 'Rosso' will cover ~580 - 930nm. Veloce will be fed by a 26 hexagonal fibre integral field unit (19 target, 2 calibration, 5 sky/background), with an on-sky target area 2.5" in diameter and with spatial scrambling through octagonal fibres. The optional simultaneous calibration will be a Menlo Systems laser comb for extremely precise wavelength calibration and/or a Thorium-Uranium-Xenon arc lamp. Veloce will be suitable for observing single targets brighter than i<14 magnitude and will be particularly good for red targets such as cool M dwarf stars. More information will shortly be available on this page. Questions about instrument performance should be directed to the Veloce instrument scientist, Duncan Wright (duncan.wright@aao.gov.au)

SAMI status

SAMI is the Sydney-AAO Multi-object Integral-field unit that feeds the AAOmega spectrograph. SAMI provides 13 fibre-based IFUs called 'hexabundles', each with a field of view of 15 arcseconds, that are deployed by plug-plate anywhere within a 1-degree diameter field of view using the AAT's Prime Focus top end. Constraints on observable targets with SAMI are given at this link. Before writing your proposal, potential SAMI observers must contact the SAMI instrument scientist Julia Bryant (julia.bryant@aao.gov.au). Note, the SAMI 2dFDR data reduction pipeline has been tested using the AAOmega gratings that are used for the SAMI survey (580V and 1000R), but has not been tested with other AAOmega gratings.

HERMES status

HERMES is a four-channel, bench-mounted high-resolution spectrograph for use with the 2dF top end. The wavelength ranges of the four channels are fixed at 4715-4900 Å, 5649-5873 Å, 6478-6737 Å and 7585-7887 Å. The spectral resolution is nominally R~28,000, which can be raised to R~45,000. Questions about instrument performance should be directed to the HERMES instrument scientist, Gayandhi De Silva (gayandhi.desilva@aao.gov.au). More information about the instrument can be found at this link.

KOALA status

KOALA (Kilo-fibre Optical AAT Lenslet Array) provides integral-field capability to the AAOmega spectrograph. KOALA has a selectable spatial resolution of 0.7"or 1.25" and has good response at the extreme blue. Information on KOALA can be found in the instrumentation page at this link. Questions about performance should be directed to the KOALA instrument scientist, Ángel López-Sánchez (angel.lopez-sanchez@aao.gov.au).

Remote observing

Remote observing from the AAO's North Ryde headquarters is available as an option for all AAT facility instruments. Observers who wish to travel to Sydney to carry out remote observations can continue to access the existing Travel and Accommodation support offered to AAT observers. It is also possible to observe from the remote observing facilities at the ANU and ICRAR. Use of these latter two facilities will be restricted to experienced observers who have used the AAT in the past two years. Observers wishing to use these facilities will not be eligible for travel support from the AAO. 

Service time

If projects require fewer than 6 hours of observing, they can be performed in service time. Applications for service time are made electronically direct to the AAO and are accepted year-round. See the AAT Service Observing page for more details.


The AAO requests all publications based upon data allocated through the AAO include the following acknowledgement:

Based [in part] on data acquired through the Australian Astronomical Observatory, [via program XXX]. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which the AAT [or UKST] stands, the Gamilaraay people, and pay our respects to elders past and present.

How to Apply for AAT Time - the Basic Steps

Instrument status and policies

All ATAC applicants should check the latest Instrument Availability and recent Policy Announcements. If you require further clarification on any issue, then please contact the AAT Technical Secretary Lee Spitler ( aatts [at] aao.gov.au ).

See Special Override Rules for proposals seeking time as an override on another program's time and the Long Term Program page for those seeking long term status. Proposals requiring at most 6 hours of observing time should be submitted to the AAO's Service Observing program.

If the PI and at least half the observing team are from European countries, they may apply for AAT time through the OPTICON program.

Proposal content

Full Technical Details, outlining how you derived your time estimates, observing constraints, and any special requests should be included in the scientific case (preferably under a separate section heading).

Proposals should be written such that the content and significance is understandable by a wide range of astronomers. 

If your proposal seeks time on two instruments, outline carefully the relative requirements of the different instrument set-ups, including the split in observing time between the instruments.

If the observations are essential to the completion of a student's PhD thesis, then a full explanation must be given in the science case. No special consideration is given to proposals involving PhD students, except when attempting to schedule proposals near the cut-off, when some priority may be given.

After accounting for overheads (detector readout, calibrations and telescope slewing), observers are required to multiply their time request by 1.5 to account for bad weather.

All applicants should be aware that it is the policy of the AAO that any backup project must use the same instrument as the main project.

A list of the principal targets (field centres for AAOmega+2dF programs) should be prepared as a separate PDF document. The target list should contain target name, RA (h m s), Dec (d m s), target brightness, and priority. There is a 2-page limit for this target list PDF file. Other document formats will not be accepted.

Proposal submission details

Prepare your main proposal offline, including an abstract, target list, science case, and technical justification. The science case and technical justification together should be, in PDF format, no more than three pages total, with two pages for the science case and one page for technical justification. Those three pages should include all references and figures, use 11pt font (or larger), and have at least 10mm margins. Colour figures are accepted. Other document formats will not be accepted.

Applicants seeking Long Term status may be allowed to submit up to five pages, provided prior permission is obtained well in advance from the ATAC Secretary, Helen Woods (helen.woods@aao.gov.au).

Submitting your proposal

When your proposal details are ready, submit your application to ATAC through Lens, the AAT's online proposal submission system. As noted above, this is a user-account-based system and all investigators on a proposal must be registered.

Contacting the ATAC Secretariat 

The Secretary, ATAC
Australian Astronomical Observatory
PO Box 915
North Ryde  NSW 1670
Phone:  +61 (0)2 9372 4800    Fax:  +61 (0)2 9372 4880
Email enquiries:  Helen Woods (helen.woods [@] aao.gov.au)