When approval has been given and time allocated, the Principal Investigator (P.I.) of the observing team will be notified by his or her National Gemini Office. When notified, the PI or observer should download the Visitor Support Preparation Form, the Medical Disclaimer, Safety Warning, the Liability Notice, and the Emergency Contact Form, fill them out, and return the completed forms to Lucia Medina (see contact details below) at least 4 weeks prior to your observation run. Also, the PI or observer should read this information section for important information about the observing run.

Visiting astronomers are responsible for all of their own air travel arrangements (visas, airline tickets, insurance, funds, etc.). Gemini will make hotel and car rental reservations (see important Note) to be driven in and around the city in La Serena (or Santiago, if needed). Visitors must ensure that the various preparation forms are returned before the specified deadlines. Visitors wanting to spend some vacation time in La Serena are urged to make those arrangements through their own travel agency. Visitors are responsible for payment of rental car and hotel room charges. Cerro Pachón lodging/meal charges will be collected upon departure or billed to the proper party.

By accepting observing time, the Principal Investigator agrees to be responsible for all charges incurred. Aura Observatory Support Services (AOSS) will provide an invoice in chilean pesos for the services the visitors consume while staying at Aura in Chile within five days of they leaving La Serena . You're encouraged to keep track of your meal consumptions on the invoice form you will receive upon arrival so that Lucía can have an accurate record of your daily meals on the summit and tackle them with the charges made by Aura-O. Chargeable items include:

La Serena Aura motel Clp$20,434 

Cerro Pachón Lodging Clp$28,220

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and night lunch on CP at Clp$9,500

Lucía can also help you out with hotel reservations in Santiago and La Serena at various rates at:


Payments must be made in pesos only by cash, credit card, or US dollars converted into pesos at the exchange rate of the day applied by AOSS. Gemini will not schedule observing time for any PI who has overdue charges from a previous run.

A useful reference for the US$ - Chilean peso exchange rate is given  at:
Note that this may not be the exact rate charged by AOSS on any dollar conversions they make, which is defined by the commercial quotes they receive.

Visitors are not required to produce a high-altitude medical certificate but are required to sign a Medical Disclaimer. Please also see the Emergency Procedures for Cerro Pachon and information on Emergency Procedures for SBF.

You are strongly encouraged to arrive in La Serena in time to spend at least half a day in the office meeting with your allocated Gemini Contact Scientist. Upon your arrival, please see Lucia Medina for operations orientation. If requested, office keys will be issued, and office space in our visitor's office building 2nd floor office 219

Gemini does not provide a vehicle for observers, but will provide schedule transportation between La Serena and the summit of Cerro Pachon.  Timetable is as follows:

Leaving La Serena


Week days

Weekends on request

06:30AM [Bus]

09:00AM [carryall]

09:00AM [carryall]

2:00PM [carryall]

2:00PM [carryall]




Leaving Cerro Pachon


Week days

Weekends on request

11:15AM [carryall]

11:15AM [carryall]

4:30PM [Bus]

6:30PM [carryall]

6:30PM [carryall]


Classical visitors, NGO observers, or any non-Gemini staff staying at the summit on official business, are allowed to drive Gemini vehicles between the Cerro Pachon hotel and the summit (the restaurant and the telescope), provided they are in possession of a valid driver's license.  Since there are two cars available at the summit, this allows the visitors to keep a different schedule from the night crew without impacting operations or forcing the night staff to "chauffer" them.  Remember that keys should be left in the car parked at the CP hotel.

Please read and be aware of the following precautions:

1. Any driver must possess a valid driver's license.

2. Drivers must as always drive conservatively, with precaution, especially if they are unfamiliar with the road.  Follow posted speed limits and be aware of extra precaution required at night or in poor weather.  Visitors should also be aware that there are often animals on or near the road.

3. Visitors are allowed to drive between the hotel and the summit only.  Visitors are NOT permitted to drive Gemini vehicles below the CP hotel, toward the Quisco, Tololo, or La Serena.

4. When driving between the hotel and summit, the driver must follow the normal procedures with regard to radio notification.  The SSAs should brief the visitors on the correct procedure.  If traveling during "radio-quiet" hours (during the night), the driver must alert the night-time SSA.  Leaving from the hotel to the telescope, they should call ahead to the SSA before they leave; leaving the telescope to the dorm, they must call the SSA upon arrival.  The SSA is responsible to contact the paramedic if the driver does not arrive in a timely manner.

5. The night-time SSA, as safety officer, has full discretion regarding visitors driving on the road at night.  If circumstances are such that the SSA does not feel it is safe for the visitor to drive (due to bad weather, or if the SSA feels the visitor is too tired, for example), the SSA can insist that the visitor not drive themselves down from the telescope.  In this case, the visitor has to wait for a ride from the night staff.

6. Drivers are asked to use their parking lights only (no headlights) for the last ~1 km (from just below the restaurant) when arriving to or leaving the telescope during the night, to avoid contamination of observations that may be taking place (from Gemini or SOAR).

It is accepted that the specific demands of instrument commissioning teams - including schedules that may not coincide with those of our staff nor of shared transport to and from the mountain - may produce a need to have independent access to a vehicle for mountain use.  In such cases, the leader of the visiting group should include a request for this to be arranged well in advance of the visit; at the time they submit the Visitor Support Preparation Form.

The provision of an independent vehicle for a visitor's stay on Cerro Pachon will be subject to the approval of the Head of Science Operations, Gemini South. If approved, unless notified otherwise, 4x4 vehicles with airbags will be hired for the team's use at a cost of Clp$44,666 per day [Apr 2008]. Road orientation/mountain driver training [of half a day to 1 day, depending on previous experience] will also be provided for those drivers of the group who may drive on the mountain. This training will need to be planned as the group's first activity on the mountain after arrival; part of the orientation/training will take place on the drive up the mountain. As an introduction to the driving conditions and requirements on Cerro Pachon, visitors should study the Cerro Pachon Safe Driving Video * shortly before their arrival in La Serena."

After your observing run is over, it is requested that an Observing Run Report be completed prior to your departure. Papers containing data from the Gemini telescopes should include relevant acknowledgements

Lucia Medina (
Phone: +56 (51) 205 601
FAX: +56 (51) 205 684
Rev 07/11/2008