The 2014 AusGO/AAO Observational Techniques Workshop

Composite header image showing the AAT, Magellan and Gemini telescopes.

Tuesday April 1 to Friday April 4 - AAO Headquarters, North Ryde, Sydney

The workshop is now over. Thanks to all those who made it possible!

The Australian Gemini Office in conjunction with the Australian Astronomical Observatory has held the 2014 AusGO/AAO Observational Techniques Workshop from midday on Tuesday April 1 to midday on Friday April 4, 2014 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, and included tutorials and demonstrations where participants could get their hands on real data and learn how to reduce it.

The finalised program and speaker presentations is available here and the participant list is here. Presentations were given by AAO staff and other local experts, and Dr Emma Hogan from Gemini was available to help with software installation and data reduction tutorials. Topics covered in the workshop included:

  • Instrumentation available on the Gemini, Magellan, and Anglo-Australian Telescopes.
  • Imaging and photometry.
  • Characteristics of optical and infrared detectors, and signal-to-noise calculations.
  • Spectroscopy, including high-resolution, multi-object and 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 Gemini IRAF and 2dFDR.
  • Data reduction challanges to test out your skills.
  • Analysing, visualising, 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 Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, there was no registration fee. Lunch (on the Wednesday and Thursday), morning and afternoon teas was be provided to all registrants. In lieu of a workshop dinner, an evening at the Sydney Observatory featuring stargazing, 3D shows, pizza, wine and beer for a modest cost was planned for the Wednesday evening (7-9 PM).


Registration closed on 26 March 2014.

Remote participation

If you did not get a chance to register or were unable to physically, we offered remote participation via AARnet. In addition, we have recorded the workshop in order to make it available on the Gemini Observatory website. Stay tuned.

Organising Committee

  • Caroline Foster (Chair)
  • Stuart Ryder
  • Richard McDermid
  • Simon O'Toole
  • Kyler Kuehn
  • Chris Lidman


Please direct all enquiries to the Chair of the Organising Committee, Dr Caroline Foster (cfoster -@-

Workshop's official group photo

Official group photo showing participants and presenters.


Download the PDF version of the program here.

Tuesday 1 April 2014
11:30-12:55 Registration  
12:55-13:00 Welcome Caroline Foster
Chair: Chris Lidman
13:00-13:30 Introduction to optical and IR facilities [PPTX] Chris Tinney
13:30-14:00 Writing proposals and the TAC process [PDF] Sarah Martell
14:00-14:30 Observing preparation and software tools [PPTX] Simon O'Toole
14:30-15:15 Gemini queue demystified, Gemini helpdesk & data archives [PDF] Richard McDermid
15:15-15:45 Afternoon tea
Chair: Stuart Ryder
15:45-16:30 Optical and infrared detectors [PPTX] Kyler Kuehn
16:30-17:30 An introduction to data reduction [TAR.GZ] Keith Shortridge
Wednesday 2 April 2014
Chair: Kyler Kuehn
9:00-10:00 Imaging, photometry and filters [PDF] [YouTube] Lee Spitler
10:00-10:30 Morning Tea
10:30-11:30 Near infrared astronomy [PPTX] [YouTube] Chris Tinney
11:30-12:00 Adaptive Optics [PDF] [YouTube] Francois Rigaut
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-14:00 Introduction to Iraf and Gemini IRAF [PDF] [iPython notebook] Emma Hogan
14:00-15:00 Gemini IRAF imaging demonstration [PDF] [iPython notebook] Emma Hogan
15:00-15:30 Afternoon Tea
15:30-17:30 Imaging data challenge Emma Hogan, Stuart Ryder & Caroline Foster
Thursday 3 April 2014
Chair: Simon O'Toole
9:00-10:00 Basics of Spectroscopy [PPTX] [YouTube] Andy Sheinis
10:00-10:30 Morning Tea
10:30-11:00 Multi-object spectroscopy [PPTX] [YouTube] Caroline Foster
11:00-11:30 Integral-field spectroscopy [PDF] [YouTube] Millie Maier
11:30-12:00 High-resolution spectroscopy [PDF] [YouTube] Dan Zucker
12:00-12:10 Official group photo
12:10-13:00 Lunch

Parallel Sessions

1 - 2dFdr demonstration [PDF]

2 - Gemini Iraf IFU demonstration


Michael Birchall, Sarah Brough & Andy Green

Richard McDermid

15:00-15:30 Afternoon Tea
15:30-17:30 Spectroscopy data challenge Richard McDermid, Michael Birchall & Andy Green
Friday 4 April 2014
Chair: Caroline Foster
9:00-10:00 Working with your data [PDF] Chris Lidman
10:00-10:30 Morning Tea
10:30-11:00 Data visualisation [PPT] Chris Lidman
11:00-11:30 Telling the world about your result [PDF] Amanda Bauer
11:00-11:30 Farewell comments followed by Q&A Stuart Ryder
12:00 Workshop Ends

List of participants

No. Name Affiliation
1 Geoff Sims UNSW
2 Catherine de Burgh-Day The University of Melbourne
3 Daniela Opitz University of New South Wales
4 Gregory Goldstein Macquarie University
5 Giulia Savorgnan Swinburne University
6 Daniel Neri-Larios The University of Melbourne
7 Ashkbiz Danehkar Macquarie University
8 Paola Oliva-Altamirno AAO/Swinburne University
9 Simon J Murphy University of Sydney
10 Sarah Martell AAO
11 Craig Burnett University of Melbourne
12 Julia Bryant Sydney Uni
13 Danica Draskovic PhD Student in Physics and Astronomy
14 Clare Kenyon University of Melbourne
15 Tony Farrell AAO
16 Vanessa Moss University of Sydney/CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science
17 Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer UNSW
18 Minh Vuong AAO
19 Alexey Latyshev Sydney Institute for Astronomy
20 Kim Bott UNSW
21 Carolyn Doherty Monash Centre for Astrophysics , Monash University
22 Emma Lindley University of Sydney
23 Beau Bellamy The University of Sydney
24 Suk Yee Yong The University of Melbourne
25 Mark Durre CAS Swinburne
26 Bililign Dullo Swinburne University
27 Brint Gardner Macquarie University
28 Emma Hogan Gemini Observatory
29 Sinem Ozbilgen University of Melbourne
30 Michael Goodwin Australian Astronomical Observatory
31 Colin Navin Macquarie University
32 Shane Vickers Macquarie University
33 Michael Cowley Macquarie University
34 Tui Britton Macquarie University
35 Christina Baldwin Macquarie University
36 Carlos Bacigalupo Macquarie University
37 Elaina Hyde Macquarie University
38 Stephanie Bernard University of Melbourne
39 Paolo Bonfini Swinburne University of Supercomputing
40 Adam Schaefer University of Sydney
41 Rebecca McElroy University of Sydney
42 Vincent Dumont University of New South Wales, School of Physics
43 Francois Rigaut ANU
44 Daniel Cotton UNSW
45 Bonnie Zhang ANU
46 Tho Do Duy University of New South Wales at Canberra
47 Sabine Bellstedt University of Wollongong
48 Matthew Jones University of Wollongong
49 Nuria Lorente AAO
50 Travis Stenborg Macquaire University
51 Ly Duong


52 Joao Bento

Macquarie University

53 Sanjib Sharma

University of Sydney

Software and data reduction tutorial materials

In order to be able to take part in the tutorials and data challenges, please have the Ureka Suite of software installed on your laptop prior to arriving at the workshop. It is fairly straightforward to install and should not interfere with any prior installations.

In addition to the Ureka suite, you will also need to make sure you have the Gimp installed on your laptop. The Gimp is free and can be downloaded for mac or linux. Please contact the organisers if you have any problems.

The data for the tutorials and challenges were distributed on USB sticks at the workshop.

The street address of the Sydney Office is 105 Delhi Rd, North Ryde, NSW 2113.

Please fill out the AAO Visitor form if you are visiting our staff, attending a meeting or workshop, using our remote observing facilities, or if you would like to give a colloquium.

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

Travelling by car

Approaching from the city, go over the Harbour Bridge or through the Harbour Tunnel then take the expressway exit to Epping/Lane Cove. This expressway will continue through to Epping Road, via 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 Google Maps.

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 and their tags and passes page.

By taxi

A taxi from Sydney to AAO North Ryde office costs about $60. 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 current timetables and fares can be obtained from Sydney Buses.

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 Sydney Trains.

Accommodation near AAO North Ryde Office

The AAO will book accommodation in Sydney on your behalf only if you are a remote observer. All visiting observers 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 Serviced Apartments

58-62 Delhi Rd, North Ryde

Ph: +61-2-8899 8888

Across the road $212

Check in: 2pm

Check out: 10am

Within walking distance

Close to the North Ryde Office

Price excludes internet & parking

Lane Cove Tourist Park

Plassey Rd, Macquarie Park

Ph: +61 2 9888 9133

0.8 km $135

Check-in: 2:00pm

Check-out: 10:00am

Within walking distance

Self-catered accommodation

Internet not available through entire park.

North Ryde Accommodation House

22 David Ave, North Ryde

Ph: +61 0478 198 133

2.9km $68 - $132

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

Charrington Hotel

22 Centennial Ave, Chatswood

Ph: +61 2 9419 8461

 4.3km  $99 - $124

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

 3.6km  $100 - $130

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,

Stamford Grand

Cnr Epping and Herring Rd, North Ryde

Ph: +61 2 9888 1077

3.6km $230 - $250

Check in: 3.00pm

Check out: 11.00am

Macquarie Uni Train Station - 635m

Epping Rd Bus Stop - short walk

Breakfast and internet NOT included


81 Talavera Rd, North Ryde

Ph: +61 2 8874 5200

4km From $141

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

Sir Robert Menzies College

136 Herring Rd, North Ryde

Ph: +61 2 9936 6000


$80 - $127 room

$100 - $112 flat

Check in: 1:00pm

Check out: 9:00am

Waterloo Rd bus stop - short walk

Macquire Uni train station - 14m

Free internet access

Includes three meals a day, bed linen and towels

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

For a list of hotels in the Sydney CBD or near Sydney Airport, please check the wotif website.




Student travel support

Thanks to generous sponsorship from AAL and the Australian government's Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, we were able to offer travel subsidies (a few hundred dollars per person) to some student participants enrolled at an Australian institution. Applicants were asked to send a proposed budget, together with details of any financial support sought or committed by their home institution or other funding sources, to Caroline Foster by Friday 28 February 2014. All applicants were advised of the level of subsidy available on 7 March. Applicants needed to have their costs met by their home institution, which then invoice invoiced AusGO (with receipts) for the amount of the subsidy awarded.