Designated Visitor Information

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 p2ls. 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. Please, be sure to read the documentation. In particular, some of the instruments have some 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. In particular, 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

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Observatory has implemented a Restricted Operations mode with less than half of the usual staff at the observatory site. In order to enable smooth operations, we kindly ask you to prepare and submit the observing material (using p2) at least 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. An as complete as possible 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. 

This advance preparation of observations is necessary given the limited on site staffing during Restricted operations. We want to make sure that there is no missing information at the beginning of the dVM run and observations can successfully be executed by the staff on site.

In case of questions regarding your observing material, please contact 

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 twilight for observation unless this time is needed by the Observatory.

  • For instruments on the Unit Telescopes, as well as VLTI, you will be able to view the relevant panels, using a web-based remote viewing facility called LOEM 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.

  • End-of-mission report

    Please send us an End-of-Mission Report after you have completed your observing 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.