Observing with AAO Telescopes

Before observing at the AAO

The programmes awarded time by AATAC will be included in the AAT Schedule or the UKST Schedule for the appropriate semester, and it is the responsibility of the named PI on the proposal to inform collaborators of the allocation. With the exception of UK 2dF+AAOmega allocations, observers are generally expected to travel to the telescopes to perform their own observations and should read the guidelines for AAO observers. Information on travel to the site and accommodation in both Sydney and Siding Spring Observatory is given in the Travel and Accommodation pages.  Please advise the AAO of your travel and contact details via the AAO Visitor Form (Lens account required). Details submitted using this form will go to the AAO Support Astronomer group, the AAT Admin and the colloquium organiser.

Your designated support astronomer should normally contact you a month or so in advance of the run to confirm your travel plans are in place, and discuss any issues concerning your observing strategy. All 2dF+AAOmega PIs are required to supply their configuration (.fld) files at this time, or risk forfeiting their allocated time. If you have not been contacted by your support astronomer (as given in the schedules) 2-3 weeks before your run, then please get in touch with them directly. You will be given a full indoctrination by your support astronomer during the first afternoon, but it can save a lot of time if you have already familiarised yourself with the on-line instrument manuals. First-time observers will also be given a safety briefing, concentrating on dome safety at the AAT.

 During your observing at the AAO

Unless indicated on the schedule, your AAO support astronomer is only expected to provide on-site support for the first night of your observing run. They will however arrange to make themselves available by phone at any time during your run. In the absence of your support astronomer, your first point of call for any technical concerns should be the night assistant, or between 2pm and sunset, the afternoon shift technician whose name appears on the board to the right of the weather system display above the telescope console. The easiest way to summon help is to depress the green "Technician Call" button on the rack to the right of the main switchboard. To disable the buzzer locally, press the "Buzz Off" button.

After observing at the AAO

When you have finished observing you will want to copy your data to a laptop, or alternatively CD-ROM or DVD. Instructions on using the DVD/CD writer on the Linux workstation aatlxa can be found on a sheet adjacent to this machine in the control room. Blank CDs (up to 700 Mb) and DVDs (up to 4.7 Gb) are available from your support astronomer or night assistant, but please note that due to the high current costs of writable DVDs, you will be charged for them. If you wish to copy the raw data onto your laptop or elsewhere, use scp. 

If you wish, an electronic observing log can be e-mailed to you by the night assistant. Most AAT data is now written as standard FITS although some reduced output can be in Starlink .sdf format, (convertable to FITS or IRAF formats using the Starlink convert package). The keywords that the AAO Observer system adds to the FITS header file are described here.

Australian-based observers may now claim Travel and Accommodation support from the AAO. European observers may be eligible for travel and accommodation funding under the OPTICON Trans-National access program.

Finally we ask all observers to fill in the Observer's Report Form at the end of their observing run. This information provides important feedback to the AAO and is used to make improvements where necessary.