CfA Observing Policies

Applying for telescope time

To apply for observing time at a CfA facility, the CfA must be your primary affiliation and you must be resident at a CfA facility. CfA staff on leave or sabbatical may also apply for time. Proposals for CfA facilities are submitted using a web-based form. Within a month or so after the proposal deadline, the TAC meets to rank proposals and allocate time. Once observing schedules are official, observers can start to plan their observing runs.


Planning your observing run

To plan observing runs, all observers should contact the appropriate instrument scientist or an experienced CfA observer. Unlike NOAO, CfA observing facilities such as the FLWO, MMTO, and Magellan do not provide an instrument scientist at the telescope or a software scientist to assist with data reduction after your observing run. Thus, it is the observer's responsibility to prepare for the run and to learn about changes in the hardware and software since their last observing run.


New observers should take extra time to prepare for their observing run. If you are not familiar with a telescope or an instrument, 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. Please read the appropriate set of guidelines to help you to prepare for your run.

MMT guidelines
Magellan guidelines
FLWO Observing Policies


All observers visiting FLWO or the MMT should read the driving policies. While on the mountain, it is important to drive safely and to understand that rapidly changing weather conditions can make driving hazardous.


The TDC staff can also assist with instrument preparation for FLWO and MMT instruments. Here are some useful links.

FLWO 1.2-m
FLWO 1.5-m
Finding Charts


For additional information, you can also access these sites:



There is also an interactive tour of Mt. Hopkins



Visitor Policies

Although scheduled observers may invite guests to watch operations at the MMT, the MMTO has a strict visitor policy that requires approval from the MMTO Director of Operations, Dr John Glaspey. The TAC strongly supports this policy and recommends that observers read the policy before traveling to the MMTO.