Information for Visiting Astronomers

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.

    If you have not yet done so, please, provide your travel information on the Visiting Astronomer travel form.

  • 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 additional targets to fill the night, these 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.


At Paranal

  • When arriving at Paranal

    Much of the important information regarding your stay on Paranal is summarised on the Paranal Site Information, Logistics and Safety page. Please pay particular attention to the Safety recommendations on that page. 

    You will have two nights on Paranal prior to the start of your run, in order to finalize your observation strategy and your observation blocks together with your operation specialist / support astronomer and your night astronomer.

    You are kindly requested to stay in the observatory Residencia while you are preparing your observations and until the beginning of your run. Visitors are not allowed to drive on the mountain, transportation to the telescope is arranged with your support astronomer.

    If during your stay you feel sick, get in touch with the local paramedic and follow their recommendations. Consider working from your room instead of coming up to the control room. 

  • OB Preparation

    Please, discuss your observing strategy with your supporting operation specialist or daytime astronomer. For very specific questions or details, you can request to discuss them with the night astronomer. You are asked to prepare the observations on your personal laptop. If you have any problems with your laptop or software, please contact your day-time support astronomer to arrange access to a computer.

    Some specific remarks:

    • FORS2: please do not edit the FIMS files. This may produce problems at the execution.
    • FORS2 observations: verify with your day-time support that before 9:00LT the day before your observing night that the instrument is prepared for your setup (filter, CCD).
  • The Observations!

On the days of your observations, you will be driven up by one of the support astronomers.

You may want to check the ambient conditions using the ASM.

Once at the telescope, you will have many things to do -- refer to this separate page "At the Telescope", also linked from the left menu.

You can copy your data to your personal laptop. Connect the laptop to the wireless network ESO_VA in the control room (password provided by the night astronomer). Then push the data from the offline machine to your laptop.

  • Fair treatment, courtesy and respect

Paranal Observatory is committed to creating a work environment that is safe, professional and of mutual trust where diversity and inclusion are valued, and where everyone is entitled to be treated with courtesy and respect. Please help us in maintaining such a professional working environment at all times. 

ESO will not tolerate harassment of any form. In this context we adopt the UN definition of harassment:

Harassment is any improper and unwelcome conduct that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another person. Harassment may take the form of words, gestures or actions which tend to annoy, alarm, abuse, demean, intimidate, belittle, humiliate or embarrass another or which create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Harassment normally implies a series of incidents, but can be a one-off serious incident. It is important to note that harassment is not defined by the intention of the perpetrator, but instead by the impact of their behaviour on the recipient.

If during your stay you experience uncomfortable situations related to fair treatment, courtesy and respect, and would like to report them, please approach in confidence your support astronomer or another trusted ESO staff (for example the shift coordinator).

Thanks for your help in this important matter, and we hope you enjoy your stay on Paranal!


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 a subset of the reduced data produced in the pipeline machine of Paranal will be available from the archive.

  • 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 via email 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" group of the Data Flow Operation Department 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.