National Facilities Overview

AAL associated facilities

AAL receives funding from the Australian Commonwealth Government to support Australian-based astronomers to access a range of world-class national and international astronomical facilities.

8-metre Telescope Access: Gemini, Magellan and Keck


The 8-metre diameter twin Gemini telescopes are located in on Mauna Kea in Hawaii (Gemini North) and in Cerro Pachon Chile (Gemini South). Australian astronomers have access to 7 nights/year on these telescopes in 2016 and 2017.

The twin Magellan telescopes, the 6.5-metre Baade and Clay telescopes, are located at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Australian astronomers have access to 15 nights a year on Magellan.

The 10-metre twin Keck telescopes are located on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Australian astronomers have access to a total of 45 nights a year on these telescopes until at least 2017. This time is alllocated through a joint National program that combines the time available from AAL, the Australian National University, and Swinburne University, who each have 15/nights per year.

Murchison Widefield Array (MWA)


The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is located in outback Western Australia. It is a radically new type of radio telescope, with no moving parts, and dependent on prodigious computer power to create exquisite real-time wide-field images of the radio sky. MWA commenced operations in mid-2013 and has now archived over 10 petabytes of data at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

All Sky Virtual Observatory (ASVO)

AAL in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology (SUT)the Australian National University (ANU), the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), and the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO), is advancing AAL's eResearch objectives by building the All-Sky Virtual Observatory, which links large-scale optical and theoretical datasets within a single Virtual Observatory.

High Performance Computing

The gSTAR supercomputer

Access to national High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities is offered through AAL's Astronomy Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee (ASTAC). Time is available on National astronomy-dedicated facilities including gSTAR and the Swinburne Supercomputer, and the NCI National Facilty under the Astronomy Flagship program.


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The University of New South Wales has designed and manufactured several PLATOs (PLATeau Observatories): robotic astronomical observatories for Antarctica. The extremely dry, stable and cold atmosphere above the highest sites on the Antarctic Plateau is ideal for optical, infra-red and sub-millimetre wavelength astronomy.

The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO)

The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) is Australia's national optical observatory. Its flagship telescope is the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). AAL has supported the AAO and the AAT through a range of instrumentation and upgrade projects, including the AAT building upgrade, HERMES and AAOmega projects.

The Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF)

The Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), operated by CSIRO, is Australia's national radio observatory. It runs a number of telescopes for the community including Parkes and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA). CSIRO also manages the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, the site of the Square Kilometre Array telescope Phase 1 infrastructure that will be based in Australia, and is building the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP). AAL has supported the ATNF through provision of NCRIS funds for the construction of the ASKAP digital systems (project now complete) and CRIS and NCRIS-2013 funds to support early operations of ASKAP. AAL also provided EIF funds to enable the upgrade of the ATCA C/X receivers (project now complete) to extend the current separate and limited coverage of the 6cm and 3cm bands to provide continuous coverage of approximately 4-12 GHz.