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Before applying for CfA Telescope time, please check telescope and instrument availability below. Before applying for a PI instrument, contact the Principal Investigator and obtain a letter of approval to be submitted with your proposal.

First time users are expected to read the documentation and speak with the instrument PI if they have questions; the TAC chair can point people to recent users for practical tips.

COVID-19 update:The observatories have mostly returned to normal operation and welcome astronomers. Please review Observatory policies for current travel guidance.


  • 6.5m MMT telescope, located on Mt Hopkins in Arizona. Approximately 28 dark + 15 gray + 28 bright nights are currently available to CfA Scientists per 6 month semester.
  • 6.5m Magellan telescopes, located on Las Campanas in Chile. Approximately 6 dark + 4 gray + 6 bright nights are currently available to CfA Scientists on each telescope per 6 month semester.
  • Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO), located on Mt Hopkins in Arizona. The 1.2m telescope is dedicated to imaging; the 1.5m telescope is dedicated to spectroscopy. Approximately 60 dark + 32 gray + 60 bright nights are available on each telescope per 6 month semester.


  • Available?  The availability of instruments is indicated below. PI instruments generally require the permission of the PI to propose and use.
  • Queue?  MMT and FLWO instruments are mostly run in queue mode by the observatories, Magellan instruments are not. For instruments run in a queue, PI's submit their observing plan and target catalog before the scheduled observing run.
  • Remote?  MMT Blue Channel, and now most Magellan instruments, can be operated by PI's remotely via internet.
  • Service?  MMT and FLWO queue instruments are run by service observers at the observatories. At Magellan, we have a service observer available to CfA PIs; the expectation is that the service observer will observe most Magellan nights unless PIs choose otherwise.


1.2m FLWOAvailable?Queue?Remote?Service?
OpticalKeplerCam - CCD imagerYESYESnorobot
1.5m FLWOAvailable?Queue?Remote?Service?
OpticalFAST - moderate dispersion single-slit spectrographYESYESnoYES
 TRES - high dispersion single-fiber echelle spectrographYESYESnoYES


6.5m MMTAvailable?Queue?Remote?Service?
OpticalBinospec - moderate dispersion multi-slit spectrograph and imagerYESYESnoYES
 Hectospec - moderate dispersion 300-fiber spectrographYES*YESnoYES
 Hectochelle - high dispersion 240-fiber echelle spectrographYES*YESnoYES
 Blue Channel - moderate dispersion single-slit spectrographYESnoYESno
 MMT Cam - small field-of-view imagerYESYESnoYES
 SPOL - imaging spectropolarimeterContact PI   
Near-IRMMIRS - multi-slit spectrograph and imagerYESYESnoYES
 ARIES - adaptive optics imager and spectrographno**   
 MMT-Pol - imaging polarimeterno**   

* Hectospec/chelle are rarely scheduled in Dec-Jan because of a low-temperature operational limit.

** MMT Adaptive Optics System is offline for upgrades; it may be available for proposals in 2025.


6.5m Magellan I = BaadeAvailable?Queue?Remote?Service?
OpticalIMACS - moderate dispersion multi-slit spectrograph and imagerYESnoYESYES
 MagE - moderate dispersion single-slit echellette spectrographYESnoYESYES
Near-IRFourStar - wide-field imagerYESnoYESYES
 FIRE - high dispersion single-slit echelle spectrographYESnoYESYES
6.5m Magellan II = Clay    
OpticalMegacam - wide-field imagerYESnoYESYES
 LDSS-3 - moderate dispersion multi-slit spectrographYESnoYESYES
 LLAMAS - moderate dispersion integral field spectrographContact PI   
 MIKE - high dispersion single-slit echelle spectrographYESnoYESYES
 M2FS - fiber fed multi-object spectrograph (planning) (reductions)Contact PIYES YES
 IFUM - integral field unis for M2FSContact PIYES YES
 PFS - high dispersion single-slit echelle spectrographContact PIYES YES
 PISCO - parallel imagerContact PIYES YES
Near-IRWINERED - Warm INfrared Echelle spectrographContact LCO   
 MagAO - adaptive optics imager(s)Contact PI   

[Updated March 4, 2024 by WRB.]