OPTICON Trans-National Access Program at the AAO

The AAO participates in the OPTICON Transnational Access Program (2013-16) providing travel-related funding to AAT users from EU Member (and Associated) countries. Under the current OPTICON FP7-II agreement (2013-2016), AAO telescopes can carry up to 10 OPTICON nights per semester (typically), and possibly more, subject to availability of funds.

More information about OPTICON (including eligibility criteria) can be found below and from the website of the OPTICON office.

Separate OPTICON TAC proposal process

The OPTICON consortium operate a separate Time Allocation Committee, distinct from the AAT Time Allocation Committee, with an earlier submission deadline.

OPTICON-eligible programs should be submitted to the OPTICON TAC and not to the AAT TAC.

The AAT OPTICON nights (approximately 4% of AAT time) are top-sliced from the available time but counted as part of the Other (non-Australian) fraction of AAT time (30% overall).

OPTICON-eligible programs that are unsuccessful in securing OPTICON time will automatically be ranked alongside other AAT programs for the remaining pool of AAT time. If they are awarded nights from this time, they will not be eligible for OPTICON financial support in this round.

Applying for AAT time through OPTICON

    • Proposals must meet certain EU and OPTICON rules for formal eligibility concerning team membership, which can be viewed here. Note in particular the rules concerning the nationality of the PI and co-I's, and also the prohibition on projects which could be applied for by the PI using the national mechanisms open to them.
    • The maximum number of OPTICON nights generally available on the AAT is ten (10). The precise number of nights awarded will depend on scientific ranking and operational constraints.
    • Unsuccessful OPTICON proposals will also be automatically ranked alongside other AAT proposals for competitive access to the non-OPTICON share of non-Australian AAT time.
    • Requests for multiple telescopes for the same scientific project should be included in a single proposal form. Requests for projects with different scientific objectives should be made on separate proposal forms.
    • Any AAT instrument available in this proposal call may be requested. Please consult the AAO Instrument Status Page for specific information about instrument availability, capability and other guidelines.
    • Projects must be scientifically competitive and will be ranked based on scientific merit and technical feasibility. The AAO will attempt to schedule nights allocated by the OPTICON process, subject to practical constraints on telescope and instrument availability with due regard given to EC criteria regarding new users and users without similar national infrastructures.
    • Successful proposers (of the OPTICON-only share of AAT time) will receive travel funds as necessary for them to take up the observing time.
    • Proposals made to and approved via non-OPTICON mechanisms will NOT qualify for OPTICON travel grant support. Note that the results of the OPTICON TAC review will be communicated to the national TACs to avoid undesirable duplication. In the case of linked proposals (for example using national time to prepare for or follow-up an OPTICON-supported run) or where the OPTICON time available is insufficient for the project to be accomplished, please indicate your intention to make a linked application and explain why this is necessary.

 Detailed information on the OPTICON TAC process can be found here.

General Information for all European Applicants

OPTICON Trans-national Access Programme


A wide range of European operated telescopes at different locations, including the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), are offering observing time to external users through the OPTICON1 Trans-national Access Programme. This project was supported by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for 2009 to 2012, and is presently supported under the FP7 Part II extension for 2013 to 2016.User groups from EU Member States and Associated States2, meeting EC criteria of eligibility, who are awarded observing time under this Access Programme via the standard peer-review selection process, will receive free access to the telescope/s concerned, as well as scientific and technical support to carry out the observations. EC funds are also available to cover travel, accommodation and subsistence costs. However, such funds are limited, and priority will be given to new users, young researchers, and users from countries with no similar research infrastructure.To be eligible, both the user group leader and the majority (i.e. >50%) of the user group members must come from Member States or Associated States2. Further information about this EC programme, criteria of eligibility, and the full list of participating telescopes and deadlines, is available at the following address: http://www.astro-opticon.org/fp7-2/tna/Notes:1OPTICON: the Optical Infrared Coordination Network, is a major international project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7); see www.astro-opticon.org.2For the purpose of this EC Programme:
  1. EU Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
  2. Associated States are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Norway, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey. Potential participants should confirm the exact situation of all these countries at the FP6 International Co-operation website.