Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Anglo Australian Telescope

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Built  –1974 (–1974)
Collecting area  12 m²
First light  27 April 1974
Phone  +61 2 6842 6291
Anglo-Australian Telescope
Organisation  Australian Astronomical Observatory
Location(s)  Siding Spring Observatory , Australia
Wavelength  visible light, infrared radiation
Telescope style  optical telescope, Cassegrain reflector
Address  Coonabarabran NSW 2357, Australia
Hours  Closed now Saturday9:30AM–4PMSundayClosedMonday9:30AM–4PMTuesday9:30AM–4PMWednesday9:30AM–4PMThursday9:30AM–4PMFriday9:30AM–4PM

Aluminising the anglo australian telescope

The Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) is a 3.9-metre equatorially mounted telescope operated by the Australian Astronomical Observatory and situated at the Siding Spring Observatory, Australia at an altitude of a little over 1,100 m. In 2009, the telescope was ranked as the fifth highest-impact of the world's optical telescopes. In 2001–2003, it was considered the most scientifically productive 4 metre-class optical telescope in the world based on scientific publications using data from the telescope.


The telescope was commissioned in 1974 with a view to allowing high quality observations of the sky from the southern hemisphere. At the time, most major telescopes were located in the northern hemisphere, leaving the southern skies poorly observed. It was the largest telescope in the Southern hemisphere from 1974-1976, then a close second to the Victor M. Blanco Telescope from 1976 until 1998, when the first ESO VLT was opened. The AAT was credited with stimulating a resurgence in British optical astronomy. It was constructed by Australia and the United Kingdom but has been entirely funded by Australia since 2010. Observing time is available to astronomers worldwide.

The AAT was one of the last large telescopes built with an equatorial mount. More recent large telescopes have instead adopted the more compact and mechanically stable altazimuth mount. The AAT was, however, one of the very first telescopes to be fully computer-controlled, and set new standards for pointing and tracking accuracy.

The anglo australian telescope aat at siding spring observatory


Richard van der Riet Woolley pushed for a large optical telescope for the southern hemisphere in 1959. A Joint Policy Committee started work on construction planning in August 1967. It took until September 1969 for plans to be finalised. The agreement initially committed the specification to a telescope design based on the Kitt Peak telescope until its deficiencies were known. Both the horseshoe mount and the gearing system needed improvements. Although the revised gear system was considerably more expensive it was significantly more accurate, lending itself well to unforeseen applications.

The mirror was made by Owens-Illinois in Toledo, Ohio. It was then transported to Newcastle, England where Sir Howard Grubb, Parsons and Co took two years to grind and polish the mirror's surface. Mitsubishi Electric built the mount which was constructed by August 1973. First light occurred on 27 April 1974. The telescope was officially opened by Prince Charles on 16 October 1974.


The telescope is housed within a seven-story, circular, concrete building. It was designed to withstand the high winds prevailing at that location. The slit is narrow. The dome is required to move with the telescope to avoid obstruction. The dome structure is 118 feet (36 m) high.


The AAT is equipped with a number of instruments, including :

  • The Two Degree Field facility (2dF), a robotic optical fibre positioner for obtaining spectroscopy of up to 400 objects over a 2° field of view simultaneously.
  • The University College London Échelle Spectrograph (UCLES), a high-resolution optical spectrograph which has been used to discover many extrasolar planets.
  • IRIS2, a wide-field infrared camera and spectrograph.
  • HERMES will be commissioned in 2013. It is a new spectrograph to be used with the 2dF fibre positioner. HERMES will be used for the ‘Galactic Archaeology‘ (GA) Survey, which aims to reconstruct the history of our galaxy's formation from precise multi-element (~25) abundances of 1  million stars derived from HERMES spectra.


    The AAT was built just a little smaller and built later than the Mayall 4m, but the AAT views the southern sky.


    Anglo-Australian Telescope Wikipedia

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