news_iconWelcome to the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope!

[Version Française: Bienvenue au Télescope Canada-France-Hawaii!]

This document provides observers with important instructions regarding:

NEW! Wireless access, see Observer's account section.

  2. The Guest Observer Information Sheet, Observer Preparation Form and Observing Report Form are all available at:

    Visiting Astronomers must ensure that the various preparation forms are returned before the specified deadlines.

    1. Six (6) weeks before your run: The CFHT Observer Preparation Form should be submitted. Your observing run ID number can be verified by consulting the observing schedule at:
    2. Three (3) weeks before your run: The electronic version of the CFHT Guest Observer Information Sheet should be submitted to Ms. Moani Akana who is responsible for making your local arrangements. Questions about travel arrangements and accommodations should be directed to Ms. Moani Akana (, and questions about shipping of equipment should be directed to Mrs. Laurie Dale (
    3. Upon completion of your observations, please fill out the electronic version of the CFHT Observing Report.
    4. Visiting Astronomers bringing special equipment must inform CFHT in advance and follow, well in advance, special instructions for shipping, import and export procedures. Visiting Astronomers should contact their Support astronomer for more information. CFHT cannot give any guarantee concerning transport or customs clearance.

  4. Each individual reacts differently to working at high altitude and some individuals may experience potentially severe altitude sickness or other medical problems. Observers proposing to work at Mauna Kea should be medically fit for such work and not have conditions that would be inconsistent with work at high altitude. Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation and those acting in its behalf have no liability with respect to the risks associated with work at the telescope by observers or others. Every participant in an observing run at Mauna Kea should follow the policy of his or her own employer or sponsoring agency with respect to medical examinations and other requirements for work at high altitude. Information on working at high altitudes can be found on the CFHT Web site at


    1. While at the Observatory, Hale Pohaku or Waimea, Visiting Astronomers are subject to the authority of the CFHT Executive Director.
    2. Visiting Astronomers are responsible for all of their own travel arrangements (visas, airline tickets, insurance, funds, etc.). In case of questions or doubt, contact the agency that has supported your time request:

      Canadian Applications Committee CFHT, c/o Director General Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, National Research Council Canada, 5071 W. Saanich Road, Victoria, B.C., CANADA V9E 2E7

      M. le Directeur, Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers, 3, rue Michel Ange, BP 287-16, 75766 Paris Cedex 16, France

      Director, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, U.S.A.

    3. Cash advances cannot be provided by CFHT. Visiting Astronomers should carry sufficient funds for their entire trip and any travel after the run (bank machines, foreign exchange and credit card cash advances are available in Waimea, Kona, and Hilo).
    4. Long distance phone calls from the summit or one of CFHT's office at Hale Pohaku are permitted only if made with a phone card.
    5. The mailing address during the stay at CFHT is:

      [your name]
      Visiting Observer
      Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation
      65-1238 Mamalahoa Highway,
      Kamuela, HI 96743 USA

      A notation "Personal" on the envelope will avoid routine opening by the mail clerk.

      Phone and FAX numbers are:
      Phone: (808) 885-7944 (Waimea) ----- (808) 961-2630 (Observatory)
      FAX: (808) 885-7288 (Waimea) ----- (808) 935-4511 (Observatory)

      E-mail: E-mail can be sent to your RunID account (not RunID alias!). For example, have e-mail sent to

    6. Driving in Hawaii is permitted with a Canadian or an International Driving License, or with the 3-page French license. With prior arrangements, CFHT is prepared to provide transportation between our Waimea base facility and Hale Pohaku. Personal transportation within the island is the responsibility of the Visiting Astronomer.

  7. Reservations for your stay at Hale Pohaku will be made by CFHT based on the information provided on the Guest Observer Information Form. Guest observers will find their room assignment and keys on the reception counter just inside the front door of the main building. Sign the form and leave it on the counter.

    Rooms must be vacated before 14:00 on the day of departure to avoid additional charges. Immediate notification must be given to Ms. Moani Akana ( at Waimea for any change in the reservations made by CFHT.

    The doors to the buildings at Hale Pohaku are kept locked at all times. The front door of the main building opens with a key that is part of the set issued to you when you check in and with a combination. The key is also part of the key set for all CFHT vehicles. When you are without the key (for example, when you first arrive) you can enter by the side door (on the east side) or the front door using the push-button lock. Ask your Support Astronomer for the combination. Similar push-button locks with the same combination are installed on the entrance doors to the dormitory buildings.

    If you wish to use the Waimea facilities outside of normal working hours or during a weekend or holiday, please inform your Support Astronomer in advance in order to borrow a key.


    1. Visiting Astronomers may execute only those programs approved by the Time Allocation Committee. The observer(s) should be those named in the proposal; a replacement is permitted only under exceptional circumstances. Requests for instrumentation other than that approved and scheduled will generally not be accepted. If a significant deviation from an approved program is anticipated, approval to proceed must be obtained from the CFHT Executive Director.
    2. A minimum level of observational experience as well as familiarity with Instrument Users Manuals is assumed on the part of the Visiting Astronomer. Manuals are available on World Wide Web at URL:
    3. MOS and SIS mask frames must be returned to the Observing Assistant at the end of the run. If not returned, the replacement value will be charged to the P.I. (The masks themselves may be retained.)


      A Support Astronomer (SA) has been assigned to you, to introduce you to the instrument and telescope, and help you with general questions or problems before, during and after your run. If you have questions, concerns, or special needs, please contact your SA. The technical staff should not be directly consulted without direction from your SA. We recommend that you contact your SA prior to your arrival so that the desired arrangements can be made for your first night of observing. To know which SA will support your run, please see the Observing Schedule:
      During your run, one or more Observing Assistant (OA) will be with you at the telescope. Although their main task is to pilot the telescope, they are also trained in the basic use of our most used instruments and should be consulted if unusual or unexpected results are obtained.

      The OA is responsible for the safety of the telescope, instrument and other observatory systems and has authority to halt observing should circumstances arise that warrant such action. In matters of health and safety, the directives of the OA must be respected.

      The OA's departure time from HP is about (sunset -1h15) and return to HP is about (sunrise +0h15). Please plan your trips to/from the summit accordingly (see the 2-person rule below).

      Major concerns during or after your run may be addressed to the Executive Director (Christian Veillet - or the Director of Science Operations (Pierre Martin -


      CFHT has Suburban 4x4 vehicles ("Subs") that *must* be used to drive to the summit; no rental car is allowed past Hale Pohaku. Do not use CFHT's 2WD vehicles above Hale Pohaku.
      Driving in Hawaii is permitted with a Canadian or an International Driving License; the 3-page French license is also accepted. Guests using CFHT vehicles must have a valid driver's license and, upon request, show it to their SA.
    3. KEYS
      The keys to the vehicles are in the CFHT office at Hale Pohaku, on the 2nd floor (near the window). Before taking a vehicle, make sure there are enough cars for everyone (the OA will want his own vehicle). The key to the observatory, and also the one for Hale Pohaku, are included with the Sub keys. Please be sure to put your keys back on the board at the summit and when you return to Hale Pohaku. When not used, vehicle keys should remain in the CFHT office at Hale Pohaku or on the panel at the Observatory entrance.
    4. GAS TANK
      Make sure you have enough gas! Running out of gas means losing power steering and power braking. You won't be able to control a Sub without power steering (this has happened, so yes we know for sure...), or to stop it without power braking. Low gas is therefore a potentially VERY DANGEROUS situation rather than just an annoyance.

      If your gas tank is less than one-third full, fill up the tank. The gas pump is located just above Hale Pohaku. First take the clipboard that is on the front desk at HP; go up and fill the tank, using one of the keys attached to the clipboard to unlock the pump; fill in the sheet (observatory, # gallons, etc.); after filling the tank, return the clipboard to the front desk before driving to the summit.

      • if desired, the SA or OA can give you basic training in the use of the 4-wheel-drive vehicle along with safe driving practices on Mauna Kea; please contact your SA or OA well in advance to make arrangements.
      • going up to the summit, stop at the beginning of the unpaved road, on the flat portion.
      • shift the vehicle into NEUTRAL (don't forget to put on the brakes!).
      • shift the vehicle in 4WD mode;
        • on older subs, on the floor, between the 2 seats, there is a control for that; for 4WD, push the lever all the way forward, to the position labeled 4L; to return to 2WD, shift back the control on 2H (it's the 3rd position from the top one).
        • on newer subs, the controls are buttons located to your left, near the window; use the buttons with the green round stickers on them, do not touch the buttons with the red round stickers! Use the buttons labeled 4L and 2H.
      • shift the vehicle back in D, and go up! You will feel the 4WD kick in as you accelerate.
      • don't go too fast, stay on the right side. THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH!
      • while at the summit, it is good practice to put the emergency brake ON; if it's very windy, park into the wind so that the wind does not tear off your door. Also, in winter, park away from the building, and watch for falling ice.
      • when driving down, if it's still dark, don't turn on the headlights too soon, wait until you are below to the observatories; use the parking (yellow) lights only.
      • use the brakes as little as possible! Shift the vehicle into lower gear.
      • when driving from the summit to HP, stop just after the unpaved portion of the road ends; shift vehicle in NEUTRAL, shift from 4WD to 2WD, shift back to D and proceed; if you forget to shift back to 2WD, you will have trouble turning the vehicle (steering is harder in 4WD).
      • if there are any problems with the vehicles, please report to the OA.

  12. At no time is anyone allowed to be alone in the CFHT Observatory building.

    If you want to use an instrument during the daytime, make sure someone will accompany you (another observer) or confirm that someone from the CFHT staff (daycrew or OA) will be there with you the entire time. Note that the daycrew or other CFHT staff occasionally leaves as early as 14h, so you might not always be able to rely on their presence.

    For safety reasons, you are required to put your Sub keys on the board near the elevator, along with a magnetic tag indicating that you are in the building.


      If you want to start calibration frames before your first night (for example, in the late afternoon), please contact your support astronomer well in advance to check the availability of the instrument and telescope, and to prepare the instrument and/or telescope for you. Without prior arrangements, you should expect that the telescope will not be available for you.
      If you need to take darks in the morning, after your observing night, please ask your support astronomer and OA well in advance, so that the dome may be kept dark. Without prior arrangements, you should expect that the telescope will not be available for you after 7am.
      If you need to take dome-flats, this will probably be offered to you in late afternoon; please ask your support astronomer and OA, so that someone will go up early to prepare the telescope and lamps. Without prior arrangements, you should expect that the telescope will not be available for you.
      If, for any reason (setup, tests, etc.), you need to start your night early, please ask your support astronomer and OA, to ensure your plans do not conflict with other scheduled tasks. The OA may be able to come up a earlier to assist you.
      Under no circumstances are you allowed to use an instrument other than the one currently being used at the telescope during normal observing hours (at night). If you need to perform tests, setups, etc. before or after your normally scheduled run, please make prior arrangements with your Support Astronomer, who will give you instructions and guidelines as to when you may perform your tests. The arrangements should be made well in advance.

  15. CFHT has a clear policy for early closure of the telescope due to weather:

    • In case of very bad weather, the OA may decide to evacuate the summit; the observers must comply with this decision and not delay the evacuation.
    • After an "Hlimit" (see table below), the scheduled astronomers can decide that the night is over on their own.
    • Before this "Hlimit", if the observers want to leave (even though the conditions are still good enough to keep the dome open), the Support Astronomer has to be called first (and/or the Executive Director or Director of Science Operations if needed). Backup programs must be prepared for when the weather is not optimum.

    For your information, here is the value of "Hlimit" for each month of the year:

    March 3:30
    April 3:15
    May-Jun 2:45
    July 3:00
    Aug-Oct 3:15
    Nov 3:45


      One observer account is available per runID, during the whole semester. To get the login and password information, please contact your Support Astronomer or the Observing Assistant. This account may be used at the summit, from Hale Pohaku, from Waimea, and remotely via ssh.
    2. EMAIL
      Reading any email that is sent to your observing account is possible in two ways. If you are logged in at the summit or at Hale Pohaku to your observing account and want to read mail with a unix program (mail, mailx, pine, ...), please open a terminal window and log in to kuanalu (in Waimea; mail is no longer available at the summit directly). The mail is accessible from kuanalu but not from makani/mahina/onohi... If you are using a PC with netscape/IE, a POP3 server is available on hokua.
      The printers that are available are:
      • hpps at Hale Pohaku
      • sps at the summit (the printer is in the back control room)
      • wps at the Waimea headquarters
      If you notice that we are running low on paper, please advise the OA.
      Observers, and not CFHT, are responsible for backing up their data. You may backup your data on Exabyte, DAT, DSS-3 and DLT tapes, available on both mahina and makani at the summit. The OA may assist you in using the tape facilities. See for more information.
    5. TAPES
      Although we prefer that you bring your own tapes, it is possible for you to purchase tapes from CFHT. Those tapes are kept in the control room, in a locked cabinet. Please ask your OA. Charges are as follow:
      Exabyte$ 5.00
      DAT $ 5.00
      DDS-3 $12.00
      DLT $40.00
    6. LAPTOPS
      You may bring your own laptop and plug it to our network. Please ask the OA for a valid IP number. We also now have DHCP servers running in Waimea, Hale Pohaku, and at the Summit for use by visitors and staff. This means that laptops or other transient computers can be automatically configured for network access at any of the above locations. A computer configured this way will only have basic Internet access and will not be able to use telnet to access the CFHT site, or access network volumes.
      Free wireless access is available in the Waimea headquarters and the common and office areas of the Hale Pohaku facility. Use of computer wireless equipment at the summit, however, is prohibited as it may interfere with radio astronomy instruments. If you take wireless-equipped portable computers to the summit make sure you turn off the wireless adapter before leaving Hale Pohaku. If you cannot disable the adapter please do not bring the computer to the summit. This applies to both 802.11b and 802.11g wireless standards.


    1. If there *is* enough disk space in the instrument's account, the observer should refrain from erasing anything.
    2. If there is *not* enough disk space in the instrument's account, the observer should start by erasing the oldest data, but never erase the data from the previous night. If you are not sure what to erase, or how much, the OA may be of assistance, but do not hesitate to contact your SA.
    3. If there is still a disk space problem, contact your SA immediately.

  19. The Cafe du Mont Blanc, located on the 4th floor of the Observatory, may be used to prepare simple meals, eat night lunches, and relax. However, since we do not have a regular janitorial service at the summit, visitors are asked to keep the cafe clean and put everything away.

  21. One of our OAs has prepared an "Observer's Guide to Using Computers at the Telescope", with useful information regarding visitor accounts, coordinate files, using ximtool, saoimage, and skycat, writing data to tape, laptops, mountain paging system, printer at the Summit, IRAF hints, vi and emacs:

    1. CFHT web page
    2. Instruments page, filters, atlases
    3. Observatory manual
    4. Weather page
    5. CFHT staff
    6. Forms (Run Preparation - Run Completion)
    7. Phone numbers for people on standby (local access only)