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ALL OBSERVERS, it is the observer's responsibility to prepare for their run. CfA facilities do not provide an instrument scientist at the telescope or a software scientist to assist with data reduction. Thus observers should contact the appropriate instrument scientist or an experienced CfA observer prior to their observing run, and read the appropriate set of Observatory Policies.

COVID-19 update: Our facilities are currently unable to host outside visitors due to COVID. All observations should be made remotely, or by a local service observer. The links below still contain useful information.



  • The OIR Telescope Data Center will process and distribute reduced data for CfA observers using SAO-built instruments: (MMT) Binospec, Hectospec, Hectochelle, MMIRS, (Magellan) Megacam, and (FLWO) FAST, TRES. Observers are responsible for processing data from all other instruments; see the instrument web pages for links to possible data reduction software.

NEW OBSERVERS should take extra time to prepare. You must learn how to operate the instrument from an experienced observer. Usually, arriving at the telescope several days before your observing run will give you enough experience. Make sure to read the appropriate set of policies and the instrument manual prior to your run.

MAGELLAN OBSERVING. The service observer (Yuri Beletsky) is expected to observe most CfA Magellan nights. PIs will receive an email from Yuri about the necessary catalogs, finding charts, and other information needed to accomplish the observations; contact Yuri directly if you do not hear from him 2 weeks prior to your scheduled nights.

For those traveling to Las Campanas Observatory, please complete the LCO Instrument Set-up and Travel Arrangement forms at least one month in advance. IMACS users must submit their slit mask files at least 6 weeks in advance.

MMT and FLWO OBSERVING. For those traveling to Mt Hopkins, please read and sign the Safety Guide for Mt Hopkins Users prior to arrival. Observers must also be familiar with the difficulties of driving a mostly unpaved, single-lane mountain road where weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in winter. Anyone who wants to use a FLWO vehicle must:

Visitors not confident about driving the Mt Hopkins road must contact FLWO and make alternative plans significantly in advance of your trip. One option is to arrive early at the FLWO basecamp and ride with day staff or with another observer. Further information is available in the FLWO Visitor information guide.