Instrumentation Status for the AAT

General Information

The most detailed information on all AAT instrumentation can be found on the AAO Current Instrument Pages.

Queries can be directed to the relevant instrument scientist. These are:

Status of Common-User Instruments

AAOmega + 2dF Multi-Object Spectroscopy

During 2014, both the red and blue CCDs of AAOmega were upgraded.  In the blue, this has increased the throughput by an order of ~5%, but more importantly, the blue chip is cosmetically much cleaner with only 0.04% of the pixels flagged as bad (compared to 0.8% for the old blue CCD). In the red, the new CCD provides a significant increase in throughput as well as extend the throughput out to ~10,000A. 

AAOmega is a dual-beam, bench-mounted spectrograph for the 2dF top end. Applicants can expect that configuring a single field of 392 science fibres and 8 guide fibres will take around 45min (including overheads) depending on the complexity of the field configuration and the number of fibre moves required.

An alternate dichroic, procured by the WiggleZ team and the AAO, is available to all AAOmega users. This dichroic shifts the transition wavelength between the blue and red cameras from 5700 Å to 6700 Å, and allows full wavelength coverage with the 385R grating right out to ~10,000 Å.

All 2dF MOS applications must pay particular attention to the quality of their astrometry, and should give details about this in their proposal.

AAOmega users considering the use of Nod & Shuffle techniques should discuss their needs with , Tayyaba Zafar (  prior to submitting their proposal, to ensure that the extra workload for the user, and significant exposure time overheads involved, are commensurate with the improvement in data quality.

In order to allow sufficient time for run preparation, all configuration (.fld) files must be forwarded to your Support Astronomer before the scheduled observing run. 

Further details about the capabilities of AAOmega are available from this website.

AAOmega + KOALA Integral Field Unit

The AAO has replaced SPIRAL with the new KOALA IFU feed for AAOmega as of Semester 14A, following commissioning in Semester 13B. Information on KOALA performance can be found in the February 2013 AAO newsletter. 

KOALA (Kilo-fibre Optical AAT Lenslet Array) is a 1000 element fibre feed to AAOmega, a dual-beam, bench-mounted spectrograph. KOALA has a selectable field of view of 24"x18" or 43"x32", depending on the desired spatial resolution (0.7" or 1.25"), an increase in throughput over SPIRAL at all wavelengths, particularly at the extreme blue, and simplified field rotation. An exposure time calculator for KOALA is already available. Please also use the AAOmega Grating Calculator selecting "Mode = IFU" to check wavelength coverage for each grating. The AAO supported 2dfdr software package handles basic reduction of KOALA data, but we are currently developing new Python scripts that combine observations of a single source and deal with the spatial rebinning of the data onto a square spatial grid.  Questions about expected performance should be directed to the KOALA instrument scientist, Ángel López-Sánchez ( 

AAOmega + SAMI Multi-object Integral Field Unit

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 sampled with 61 1.6-arcsecond fibres. These IFUs can be deployed by plug plate anywhere within a 1-degree field of view using the AAT's Prime Focus top end. These are fed by fibre, along with 26 pluggable sky fibres, to the AAOmega spectrograph. The AAOmega double beam spectrograph has interchangeable gratings that can be selected by the user to give a wide variety of options for resolution and wavelength range across the optical spectrum as described above.  

Currently SAMI is being offered on a shared risk basis with regard to data reduction. The 2dfdr data reduction pipeline has been tested using the AAOmega gratings that are used for the SAMI survey, but has not been tested with other AAOmega gratings.

For further information about observing with SAMI, see this website, or contact the SAMI instrument scientist  Julia Bryant (


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 with the use of a slitmask in the spectrograph with ~50% light loss.

All 2dF MOS applications must pay particular attention to the quality of their astrometry, and should give details about this in their proposal. Recent improved mapping of distortions introduced by the gripper gantry have improved the reliability of fibre positioning down to 0.3 arcsec or better. HERMES+2dF field plates have 8 guide fibres and 392 science fibres.

In order to allow sufficient time for run preparation, all configuration (.fld) files must be forwarded to your Support Astronomer no later than one month before the scheduled observing run. Failure to do so may result in forfeiting the allocated time.


IRIS2 is an infrared imager and spectrograph which can be used for either imaging or moderate resolution spectroscopy in the wavelength range from 1.0 to 2.4 microns. The detector is a HgCdTe array of 1024 x 1024 pixel format. IRIS2 is normally used with the f/8 secondary mirror, giving a pixel scale of 0.45"/pixel and a field of view of 7.7' x 7.7'. Broad-band (J, H, Ks and K) and a range of narrow-band filters are available. Both long-slit, and multi-object (using multi-slit masks) spectroscopy (MOS) in the J, H, andK-bands at R~2400 can be carried out. All standard imaging, and point-source spectroscopy data are pipeline-processed by the ORAC-DR system.

The IRIS2 MOS mode has been decommisioned and is no longer available.

Information on the capabilities of IRIS2, including the information required for S/N calculations for imaging and spectroscopy, is provided on the IRIS2 Web pages, or contact Chris Lidman with any queries.


UCLES (and CYCLOPS2) will be decommissioned in mid-January 2018 and will not be available for use in 2018A

Please see Veloce for obtaining high-resolution spectroscopy on the AAT

UCLES is a cross-dispersed échelle spectrograph located at the coudé focus, offering a resolution of 40,000-120,000 depending on the slit width and CCD binning. The 79 l/mm grating gives slightly less wavelength coverage than the 31.6 l/mm grating, but offers a longer slit for extended objects, or better sky subtraction on fainter targets. Switching between the two gratings is trivial. The detector, an EEV2 2K x 4K CCD has excellent quantum efficiency over a wide range of optical wavelengths. However, at wavelengths longer than ~7000A there is some fringing of the detector that could cause reduction challenges for programs working at those wavelengths (see the EEV2 Web page for more information). Please note that the MITLL3 detector has been decommissioned as of semester 2, 2016.

Both UCLES itself, and the attached CCD detector, are controlled by an integrated Linux/VME-based GUI, which allows automated observing sequences and independent telescope control, among other things. Information on this interface is available in the ODC Users Guide in the UCLES Cookbook. Prospective UCLES users should contact the instrument scientist, Duncan Wright, for more information.

CYCLOPS2: UCLES (with the 79 l/mm echelle only) can be used with the CYCLOPS2 cassegrain fibre-feed to observe single objects. It provides 50% improved resolution over a typical 1" wide slit, along with about 50% higher photon collecting power in typical AAT seeing. Previous issues with instrumental flexure have now been resolved (as of Feb 2011), and flat-fielding and arc calibration strategies are well understood. The UCLES instrument page carries more detailed information on the use of CYCLOPS2.


Veloce will be a stabilised, 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 with a diameter of 2.5" 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 particularly good for red targets such as the cool M dwarf stars.

Prospective Veloce users should read the Veloce overview webpage, and/or contact the instrument scientist, Duncan Wright  (, for more information. Some additional information is also available here. 


Visitor Instruments

Proposals for the use of visitor instruments on the AAT are welcome. However. all applicants seeking to use a visitor instrument must first obtain the permission of the Director (, even if that instrument has been used previously.

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