Guidelines for AAT Observers

Important changes on August 1st, 2018

Support astronomers for most observing progams will no longer be provided. Programs that were awarded time through OPTICON and NOAO and programs that were allocated 2 nights of Director's time through the Japanese-Australia time swap arrangement will have a support astronomer.

A "Must-do" Checklist

  1. You must use the Visitor form to keep us informed of your plans. (Note: a Lens account is required to access this form.)
  2. All observers must read the Safety Guidelines.
  3. If you have a support astronomer, make contact with your support astronomer well in advance of your run.
  4. Fill out your Observer's Report Form at the end of your last night.


A night assistant and technical support are always provided at the telescope. A support astronomer (only for certain programs beyond August 1st) is available to advise on your observations, and will assist at the telescope if required. He or she will usually contact you a month or so before your observing run. If you wish to contact them ahead of time, see the Schedule Notes near the bottom of the schedule for their e-mail address.


The AAT strongly encourages students to attend and participate in observing runs. However, all students must be accompanied throughout by their supervisor, or a suitably-qualified colleague (postdoc-level or above). Under certain circumstances, suitably-experienced graduate students may observe on their own at the AAT, but only with the prior written permission of the SSO Director.

Observing Guidelines

  • If you are observing at site, you are strongly encouraged to arrive at the telescope one day prior to your observing run. The trip from Sydney can be a long one, and may not leave sufficient time to set-up for your run if you arrive on the day your run starts.
  • If your required set-up changes from that which you originally proposed, it is essential that you contact your support astronomer (see schedule), and the AAT scheduler  to inform them of the change. Significant changes made at the last minute may be difficult, or impossible, for the telescope staff to accommodate.
  • 2dF observers should thoroughly familiarise themselves with the documentation available on the 2dF + AAOmega home page, which includes the 2dF Manual, Information for Observers, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions. 2dF is a very complex instrument! We have developed a "FAQ", available from the 2dF + AAOmega WWW page, and which we encourage observers to read. You should liaise with your support astronomer before your run if there is anything which is unclear. Because of the complexity of 2dF set-ups, it is essential you are ready to begin work by 4 hours before dark on the day of your run. For this reason 2dF observers must always arrive at the telescope on the day before. Many problems can be fixed if they are caught the day before observing starts!
  • Every observer should fill out an Observer's Report Form towards the end of their last night. The information provided in these forms is vital to the continued improvement in the Observatory's facilities.
  • Observers must also pay for their overseas telephone calls. Please settle debts with Adminstration in the AAT Reception before your departure; the AAT accepts Visa, MasterCard and Bankcard. These charges are separate from the accommodation charges payable to the ANU Lodge.

Override Programs

ATAC can award time to over-ride programs. The guidelines under which these programs operate can be found here.

Safety at the AAT

  • Dome Safety: The following is excerpt is taken from the AAT Safety Guidelines which every observer will find on their desk when they arrive at the AAT. Observers must follow these guidelines at all times.
    Admission to areas of the AAT building above Floor 2 is allowed only with the permission of an observatory staff member. Only the current observers should be at the control room level. No-one (observers included!) may enter the dome at night without the knowledge and approval of the night assistant, whether to check the instrument or the weather etc. Everyone entering the dome at night must collect a torch/flashlight and carry it with them at all times. Anyone unfamiliar with the telescope or dome should ask for a 5 minute orientation tour. Please ensure that your colleagues appreciate these requirements.
  • Bushfire Safety: Bushfires (also known as forest fires or wildfires) present a very real risk to the observatory site each summer (November to March). Visiting observers are especially at risk. Please ensure you have read the document describing Fire Procedures during Bushfire Season for Siding Spring Observatory. Bushfires can change quickly and unpredictably and so visitor familiarity with these procedures during the summer months is of paramount importance.

Preprints and Reprints

It is important that we maintain complete records of publications based on AAT and UKST observations. We also request an acknowledgement to the AAO in any publications which result from use of the facilities.

Visitor Instruments

Observers awarded time with a Visitor Instrument are encouraged to examine the Guidelines for Visitor Instruments to ensure their instrument arrives in time for their run to go smoothly.

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