Rapid, flexible, programmable access to world-class telescope facilities

Modern astronomical surveys can now deliver tens of thousands of new discoveries every night, alerted within minutes.  Yet many will require additional observations in order to understand the physical phenomena and maximize the scientific return.  Observatories providing this critical follow-up must become capable of responding on similar timescales and with a flexibility governed by the demands of the science.  

AEON will be a collection of world-class telescope facilities which can be accessed on demand, at the touch of a button.  At the heart of the network, LCO is joining forces with the NOAO and the SOAR 4.1m and Gemini 8m telescopes to build a network for the LSST era.   

Astronomers will be able to request observations from any participating facility using standardized, programmable interfaces, which will be supported by the TOM Toolkit.    Telescopes in the network have agreed to some or all of their time being available in highly flexible queue-scheduling, so that observations can be requested at any time, and conducted on timescales driven by the science goals rather than block nights assigned by a Time Allocation Committee.   The combined network will offer access to imaging and spectroscopic instruments on telescopes ranging from 0.4m to 8m in aperture, distributed across the world.  Each facility retains control over the fraction of its time that is executed in AEON mode, and telescope nightly operations need not be fully robotic to participate.  

The network stands to become increasing powerful as new partner facilities of all apertures opt in, and we welcome the chance to work with other observatories.  If your facility is interested in getting involved, please get in touch - contact details are below. 

Current status

Engineering and science teams from LCO and SOAR are working together to make it possible to request SOAR observations programmatically through the LCO observing interface.  We expect to have this capability available by mid-2019, to coincide with the ZTF Survey.  LCO and Gemini are collaborating to ensure that Gemini observations can be made programmatically through the TOM Toolkit.  

Want to learn more?

Come see us at the AAS in Seattle!   NOAO, Gemini and LCO will all have booths in the exhibit hall and our staff will be happy to chat. 

We will be making detailed presentations in our splinter sessions:

  • LCO Splinter Session: "Time-Domain Follow-up Observations with Las Cumbres Observatory", Monday 7th January 2019, 6-8pm in Room 310.  Refreshments provided.

  • Gemini Splinter Session: "Science with SCORPIO on Gemini", Wednesday 9th January 2019, 2-3:30pm in Room 310.

  • Gemini Open House, Tuesday 17:30-18:30, in Room 305. 

Contact details

LCO Project Scientist: Rachel Street,

NOAO Project Scientist: Stephen Ridgway,

SOAR Project Scientist: César Briceño,

Gemini Project Scientist: Bryan Miller,

Links to AEON partner pages: NOAO

AEON is a collaboration between LCO, SOAR, Gemini and the NOAO.  The AEON Team gratefully acknowledges funding from the NSF.