Client Service Charter


Who We Are

The Australian Astronomical Observatory operates the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) and the 1.2-metre UK Schmidt Telescope (UKST) on Siding Spring Mountain, outside Coonabarabran, NSW. The AAO also provides support for Australian astronomers accessing international facilities to which Australia has access. Our headquarters and instrumentation laboratory is based in Sydney.

Our Purpose

The main purpose of the Australian Astronomical Observatory is to provide world-class optical and infrared observing facilities enabling Australian and other astronomers to do excellent science.

Our Clients

Our clients are the astronomers who are awarded observing time through competitive processes on Australian Astronomical Observatory telescopes.


This Charter sets out our commitments towards the service we will provide to you. It also sets out what you can do to make sure you get the best possible outcome from your observing run.

The Observatory is committed to maintaining and improving the quality of its services. We will monitor our performance in meeting the commitments set out in this Charter and change it as necessary. Your suggestions for improvement would be valued.

The AAO reports on its performance through the Annual Report of the Department of Industry.

If you have a complaint

If you have a problem or a complaint, please let the Director know of your concerns and, if possible, how you think improvements might be made. You can phone on +61 2 9372 4812, fax on +61 2 9372 4880 or email:

What you can expect from us


  • We will be helpful and courteous in our dealings with you

Telescope Operations

  • The AAT and UKST will be fully operational at the start of each scheduled observing night.
  • A technician will be on duty during the first part of the night to respond immediately to any technical problems.
  • At other times there will be a two-hour response time by the afternoon shift technician.
  • An AAT night assistant will be on duty all night and will operate the telescope. If there are any problems during the night, the night assistant will take immediate action either to fix the problem or arrange for someone else to fix it.


  • An AAO support astronomer will get in touch with you to confirm the details of your observing run at least four weeks prior to the run.
  • We will provide the instrumentation at the start of the night that will enable you to undertake your scientific program as specified.
  • If requested, a support astronomer will be present for the first night of your run to help you obtain the best possible data.
  • If required, we will provide full support for untrained observers on complex instruments such as AAOmega.
  • We will make available full documentation to guide you in carrying out your observations.

Data Exploitation

  • We will provide adequate computer hardware and software to allow you to store, access and analyse all data acquired with AAO instrumentation during your observing run.

General Working Environment

  • We will provide office space and facilities for each visiting observer.
  • We will provide a comfortable and functional control room.
  • We will provide library facilities, including access to essential astronomical and technical journals and texts.


  • We will promptly respond to your inquiries.
  • We will via our web service assist you arranging accommodation at the Siding Spring Observatory Lodge.
  • We will via our web service assist you with arranging transport between Sydney and Coonabarabran.

What we would like you to do

  • Advise the AAO of your arrival date and accommodation requirements for your observing run through the appropriate form on our web pages.
  • Arrive properly prepared for your observing run.
  • Ensure that your computer has up to date virus removal software and is virus-free.
  • Make yourself familiar with the safety guidelines and follow them at all times.
  • Be thoughtful and considerate in the demands you make of AAO staff.
  • Make sure your data is recorded on a suitable backup medium at the end of your observing run.
  • Promptly report any problems using the AAO Fault Log.
  • Give us constructive feedback on our service using the observer report form. If we do particularly well or if you have suggestions as to how we may improve our service, let us know.