Applying for AAT and 2.3m time

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Applying for AAT time

Under the new AAT funding agreement, the ANU has approximately 50 reserved nights of AAT time per semester. The RSAA director has decided that some of this will be allocated to large programs, and the rest will be distributed via ATAC. If you are PI on one of the large proposals, you will be contacted directly to put in your proposal. All other proposals will go in via ATAC.

Applying for 2.3m time

Automated Operation

We expect that the telescope will run in fully automatic mode over the May-July quarter, assuming that the shared risk automated observations in March and April are successful. This means that there will be changes in the application process. Details will change during commissioning - we will post updates here.

Automated observations fall into three categories:

  • Target of Opportunity. These will be executed immediately on being triggered.
  • Fixed time window. These will be executed within the requested time window: probably early in the window.
  • Flexible. These may be executed at any time during the quarter and will be scheduled to minimise the hour angle.

For each observation, you should specify the maximum acceptable sky brightness (i.e., dark, grey or bright).

Standard daytime calibrations will be automatically taken for every observation: these include arcs and biases. You do not need to include these in your time request. If you want any extra calibrations taken during the night, include them in your time request.

If you are awarded time, we will contact you and help you with the process of submitting observing commands. These can be added and modified during the quarter, subject to the limits set by the TAC.

For the moment, we are using the same application form as previously: this is just a temporary measure during commissioning.

Many fields in the existing form do not apply to automated observing: please ignore them.

Attach an extra page to your science case giving the following details for your proposed observations:

  • Number of hours requested.
  • Observation category (ToO, fixed time window or flexible)
  • Maximum acceptable sky brightness (bright, grey or dark)
  • Paid or open-access time.

It is not currently possible to put a seeing limit on observations.

This extra page is in addition to the usual 2-page limit.

If you are mixing different observation types (e.g., some paid and some open-access time, some ToO and some standard time, or some bright and some dark time), give the above information separately for each different type of observation requested.

Paid and Open-Access Time

The ANU 2.3-metre telescope at Siding Spring Observatory is scientifically productive and a valuable resource for student training and instrument development. These diverse and significant benefits justify its continued operation for the foreseeable future. The full cost to the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) of operating the 2.3m telescope (including staff, maintenance, and repairs) corresponds to approximately $2000 per night. To defray this cost, RSAA is offering priority on the 2.3m telescope to paying customers from Australia and elsewhere, while simultaneously ensuring a level of open access to astronomers at all Australian institutions.

Proposers should note on their application form whether they are requesting paid or open-access time. Paid time will be invoiced at a rate of $150 per hour awarded. Paid proposals will receive priority in the automated scheduling system, and will be executed in preference to free proposals. However, 40% of the telescope time will be reserved for open-access proposals. To be eligible to apply for open-access time, 50% or more of the proposers must be based at Australian institutions.

The price for paid time will rise to $200 per hour in 2025.

2.3m time allocation schedule

January 28: Call for applications for May-June-July quarter

February 15: Closing date for May-June-July applications

March 21: TAC meets to allocate time for May-June-July

April 28 : Call for applications for August-September-October quarter

May 15: Closing date for August-September-October applications

June 15: TAC meets to allocate time for August-September-October

July 28: Call for applications for November-December-January quarter

August 15: Closing date for November-December-January applications

September 15: TAC meets to allocate time for November-December-January

October 28: Call for applications for February-March-April

November 15: Closing date for February-March-April applications

December 15: TAC meets to allocate time for February-March-April

2.3m application process

All applications to the MSO TAC must be made via the web, using the LaTeX application template. Submission by FAX or paper hardcopy will not be accepted. Instructions for preparing your application are found below.


Applications are prepared in LaTeX using a template form. Always download the current version of the template (see file in sidebar - last updated 30/03/10), as old versions of the application form will be rejected. Fill in the details between the { brackets } where appropriate. Note, that many fields are required to have a value. The application will be rejected if these fields are omitted. The comments in the template indicate if this is the case. Some fields also require a specific value. Where this is the case, all options are provided by the form. You simply need to remove the comment flag at the begining of the line. The email address of the PI is used as a username for the user account, should the observing program be granted proprietary status. For this reason, the email address must be fully qualified (ie Again, the application will be rejected if the email address does not have a valid structure.

Science case

The science case may be prepared in one of two ways. Firstly, the science case may be included in the LaTeX form, with additional postscript figures included as extra files. Figures may be imported into the LaTeX of the science case using either the psfig or epsfig packages. The postscript figures must be uploaded as additional files.

The alternative method is to prepare the science case as an independent document, and submit this document in postscript format as an extra file. Figures may be incorporated into a single postscript document, or simply included as extra files. Any files to be included must be postscript, but may be compressed using gzip. All filenames must end in either '.ps', '.eps', '.ps.gz', or '.eps.gz'.

Do NOT submit the postscript version of the LaTeX template as an additional file. Do not include an additional postscript file that has the same filename prefix as your LaTeX application.


It is essential that you check your LaTeX application form compiles before attempting to submit the application. To do this will require the style file (style file in sidebar - last updated 19/06/18). Again, make sure you have the current version of this file.

Submission - stage 1

Once all of the files you wish to submit as part of the application are prepared, you can begin the web based submission process. In the textbox, enter the full path and filename of the LaTeX form your prepared. Alternatively, click on the browse button and select the file from the pop-up GUI.

Up to 6 postscript files may be included with the application. Enter the full path and filename in the textboxes. Included each file only once, and leave the remaining textfields blank. Do not include a postscript version of the LaTeX form.

Submit the form to begin he process. The LaTeX form will be uploaded, parsed and 'LaTeX'd'. This may take a couple of minutes to complete. If there were errors in parsing or compiling the LaTeX form, you will be notified of the errors. In this case, correct the problems are begin the submission again. Otherwise, you will be presented with a summary of the details in the LaTeX form, and a web form for 'Submission - Stage 2'. Check the details in the summary are correct. Fix the the LaTeX file and start the submission again if they are not.

Submission - stage 2

Fill in the details for the instrument you want to use. This information is used by the technical staff to configure the telescope and instrument prior to your observing run. Once all the details have been entered, 'Submit the Application'. The files are uploaded and archived. Should this process be successful, your application will have been accepted, and allocated a unique proposal ID number. Record this number. If this step fails, a message suggesting the appropriate course of action will be displayed on your browser. This may be to contact RSAA's computer system managers, or begin the submission process from scratch. If you wish to make changes to your application after it was submitted, contact Do not submit the application again.

Compensation for time lost to technical faults

For paid time, compensation will be given under the following circumstances.

  • If one or more whole nights are lost due a technical fault and there is suitable unsubscribed time in the same allocation period.
  • If there is no suitable unsubscribed time in the same allocation period and more than 25% or one whole night (whichever is greater) is lost due to technical faults, then compensation will be considered (if this is requested) in a future allocation period. However any such compensation is always at the complete discretion of the SSO Director.

For open time, compensation is at the complete discretion of the SSO Director.

All requests for compensation should be e-mailed to the SSO Director 

ANU Time Assignment Committee

The ANU Time Assignment Committee (TAC) meets quarterly to consider applications for use of ANU telescopes and instruments. 

Membership and Rules for ANU TAC

Membership as of February 2021:



Term expires (last meeting)

Prof. Paul Francis


1 September 2022

Dr Trevor Mendel


1 September 2022

Dr David Yong


1 September 2022

Dr Chris Onken


1 September 2022

Dr Katie Grasha


1 September 2022

Jonah Hansen

Student representative

1 March 2022

Dr Devika Kamath

External member

1 September 2022

Dr Katie Auchetl External member 1 September 2022

ANUTAC Handbook: Rules and Guidelines (PDF, July 2016)