Designated Visitor Information

ESO reserves the right to allocate telescope time in designated Visitor Mode (dVM) instead of regular VM for any runs with a duration smaller than one night. ESO also offers dVM observations for runs longer than one night as an option for users who wish to minimise travel times and carbon footprint. Designated VM observations on Paranal are scheduled on specific dates/slots as if they were regular Visitor Mode runs. The observations are executed by an ESO staff member, in close contact (e.g., via Skype) with the Principal Investigator, or someone the PI designates to serve as the liaison with the Observatory. The web-based tool POEM (Paranal Observatory Eavesdropping Mode) is offered to follow target acquisitions on the instrument workstations, but does not allow direct interactions with the observations and data.


Before your run

  • Getting ready: With your ESO User Portal username and password you get access to the webletters detailing your observing runs. Your User Portal credentials are also required to prepare your OBs using the web-based application for the visitor mode Phase 2 preparation p2. For general information about Phase 2, please visit the Phase 2 page.
  • Start working: Get acquainted with your instrument. The links on the left-side menu bar will take you to the various instruments web pages. Some of the instruments have specific instructions and recommendations for visiting astronomers, accessible through the "visitor" link on each of the instrument web page.
  • p2: In order to prepare the observations, use the web-based application p2
  • Targets and backup: In case you need more targets to fill the night, additional targets must be requested and approved in advance. Similarly, you should have a backup program in case the weather conditions do not permit your main program to be executed. Keep in mind that strong wind often comes from the North, so backup targets to the South should be prepared. Additional targets, backup targets and change of instrument set-up must be requested well in advance using this procedure.


Preparation of observing material

We kindly ask you to prepare and submit the observing material (using p2) 10 days before the start of the first observing night

  1. A README file with contact information for observers [First+Last name and email (mandatory), phone number and skype contact (optional)]. Please, note if the observations require a non-standard setup or special calibrations.
  2. Prepare the set of Observing Blocks (OBs). OBs should contain finding charts (and ephemeris file for moving target observations for the scheduled nights). 
  3. A notification to ESO must be sent using “Notify ESO” button when this (preliminary) material is ready. 

In case of questions regarding your observing material, please use the contact from at using the help topic "Phase 2". For last minute questions or concerns use the help topic "Program Execution".

Note that if no observing material is received, your observing time will be converted to Service Mode and your run will be lost.


The observations

In case you do not have any questions regarding your run, the first contact with the Observatory will be established via Skype at sunset of your first observing night. During this contact, the OBs will be checked and the observing strategy discussed. You will be able to use part of the evening twilight for observation unless this time is needed by the Observatory. Use of morning twilight is also possible under certain conditions.

  • You can view the relevant instrument panels using a web-based remote viewing facility called POEM and following the online instructions. The night astronomer will provide you with the credentials at the start of your run.
  • You can follow the ambient weather conditions with the ASM.


After your run

  • Data:

    Your data will be made available immediately on the ESO archive via the User Portal. The CalSelector option will allow you to automatically include all necessary associated calibrations into your data package. You will get via email a copy of the electronic night report.

    For ESPRESSO and FORS2, a subset of the reduced data produced by the Paranal Pipeline is transferred to the archive and will be available for the PI and the person to which data access is delegated.

  • End-of-mission report

    Observer feedback is very important for the Observatory and we would appreciate if you could take the time to fill our web-based survey (a link will be send to you after your run).

  • No compensation for weather or technical downtime

    In general, the Observatory does not compensate for weather or technical losses occurred during visitor mode observations. Only in exceptional cases when a close-to-total loss (>2/3 of the total program time) occurs for technical reasons, compensation may be considered by the Director.

  • Pipeline and Quality Control

    The "Quality Control" team performs many tests and measurements on all the data coming from Paranal. Many results, such as noise, gain, zero points, color terms, etc, are available from their DFO Quality Control and Data Processinge page.