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Dusty doughnut - Serena Viti

Dusty doughnut around massive black hole spied for first time

A team of astronomers, including UCL's Prof. Serena Viti imaged for the first time one of the doughnuts of dust long thought to encircle some supermassive black holes. These supermassive black holes are believed to be obscured by a doughnut-shaped structure of dust and gas, called a “torus.” However because the centres of these active galaxies are so distant, a dusty torus has never been seen – until now! More...

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Hidden in the archives: Finding the first-ever evidence of exoplanetary system

You never know what hidden treasures can be uncovered in the archives.  And this was certainly the case at Carnegie Observatories’ collection when research for an article led to the unexpected discovery of a 1917 glass plate showing the first-ever evidence of a planetary system beyond our own Sun. More...

RAS Awards

Two UCL astrophysicists win Royal Astronomical Society awards

Two UCL astrophysicists, Dr Andrew Pontzen and the late Professor Bruce Swinyard (UCL Physics & Astronomy), have been recognised in this year’s Royal Astronomical Society awards. The announcements were made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 8 January 2016. The awards will be made formally at the Society's 2016 National Astronomy Meeting in June. More...


Astronomers find hottest and most massive touching double star

A team of astronomers including UCL's Ian Howarth have found the hottest and most massive double star with components so close that they touch each other.

PATT Rolling Grant

These notes summarize procedures intended to make use of the PATT Rolling Grant as simple as possible, while retaining the necessary level of financial recording required for accountability, both to UCL and STFC. The current Principal Investigator is Ian Howarth (idh), and the UCL account code is CJAEA.

The most important thing is to make sure you that you complete a PATT expenditure form (available in pdf and OpenOffice odt formats; also OpenOffice-1 sxw and MS-Word doc), and return it promptly to idh.


You may use the Rolling Grant to fund your observing trips providing the following conditions are met:

  1. You are a permanent member of staff or a PDRA employed on a research grant. Students may not normally charge observing costs to the PATT grant. [STFC-sponsored students may attend observing runs for training purposes, using separate funding provided for these 'field trips'. Only exceptionally may a student whose credentials has firmly established her/him as a bona fide observer have costs borne by the PATT grant, conditional on prior approval from STFC and/or idh. Such observations may not form part of the PhD training.]
  2. You have been awarded observing time on a PATT-supported telescope and your PATT award letter specifies that funding for an observer is approved (if more than one observer has been approved, please supply a copy of the letter to idh), OR
  3. You have been awarded observing time as Principal Investigator on a telescope on the STFC 'approved list'.
  4. If you have been awarded observing time as a Co-Investigator at a STFC-approved telescope or as Principal Investigator on a non-approved telescope, you will need to seek approval to attend as an observer from PATT/Swindon indirectly, through idh. Please supply a copy of the original proposal, the time allocation announcement, and a case explaining why it is essential that you attend to conduct the observations

If in doubt as to eligibility, refer to the STFC PATT instructions.


To purchase air tickets, order subsistence advances, and obtain insurance, it is necessary to fill in the appropriate order books and an expenditure form, as explained below.

There are two types of "order": UCL orders where UCL pays the invoice directly (e.g., for air tickets); and other funding for reimbursements and subsistence. This means there are two distinct, separate lines of access to PATT funding; each has a hardback notebook to help keep track of where the money is going. The books are kept by Kay Nakum, together with copies of associated forms (discussed below). Entries in either book will be honoured if countersigned by Mike Barlow, Ian Howarth, or Jonathan Rawlings.

STFC provide guidelines for subsistence rates, number of non-observing nights allowed, and permitted travel costs. These should be consulted before making any purchases or reservations. Occasionally, STFC rates for accommodation at observatory sites may be out of date; in that case, actual costs (as documented by receipts) may be claimed.

UCL orders

You can avoid parting with any of your personal money by having UCL pay any bills direct. This is most often used in connection with purchase of flight tickets, and requires that the purchase be made through a travel agent who will accept a UCL order (e.g., STA Travel).

The procedure is to make an entry in the black PATT Departmental order book, labelled `PATT (1)', kept by Kay Nakum; use other recent entries as a guide to the information required (basically, who you are, where and when you're going, ticket price, and name of travel agent). Be sure to give the PATT reference or other telescope reference, where appropriate.

Obtain an authorizing signature (Barlow, Howarth, or Rawlings), whereupon the Purchasing Officer (E20), will issue you with an Order Number on production of the PATT order book. You quote this number to the travel agent, who sends you your tickets, but invoices UCL, not you. Ideally, you will discuss your travel requirements with the travel agent first, and make a provisional booking, before getting the order number. Sometimes you might need an order number before the agent will make a booking. Play it by ear.

Other funding

Anything that's not a "purchase" (in the sense of having an order number, and going through the Purchasing Officer) goes through the Accountant, Matt Young (E20). Two sorts of expenditure are usually involved:

  1. Subsistence - getting your foreign currency from UCL in advance of travel.
  2. Reimbursements - any "extra" charges you incurred, like taxi fares. (If you paid for your own air ticket, or didn't get your subsistence in advance, you'll certainly want to be reimbursed for those, too!)

1) Subsistence. Make an entry in the grey PATT book, labelled 'PATT (2)' (also kept by Christine Johnston). Again, use other recent entries as a guide. At the minimum, you should enter your name, the telescope reference number, the number of nights, and where, subsistence is required together with the STFC approved rates.

There is also a form to fill in for Matt, which has a bit more detail - e.g., dates of departure/return. Copies of the form are available from Matt or here. Give the form, and the book (with your entry signed by idh), to Matt, preferably 3-4 weeks before you need the money. In due course you'll get a form back from Matt, which you can take to Barclays Bank on Tottenham Court Road with your College ID card, and collect your currency. If you've filled in the form appropriately, you'll also get a note confirming insurance cover under the UCL scheme.

2) Reimbursements. If you've elected to pay up front for travel and/or subsistence, or if you have additional costs, then you can reclaim them by making an appropriate entry in the grey (PATT 2) book, getting it authorized, and giving it to Matt. Claims for anything other than subsistence reimbursed at standard rates must be supported by receipts.

In addition, you will need to fill in a "PATT Expenditure Form" on your return. This form is available as a pdf and as an OpenOffice odt, needed so that we can keep track of cumulative expenditure (we don't want to run out of money), and to compile costs of each observing run when the accounts need to be sent to STFC.

This form also summarizes the PATT guidelines on how many nights subsistence you can claim without detailed justification.

On your return

Please reclaim any additional expenditure using the grey PATT book within three months of your return (College requirement). There are two final things to attend to, even if you have no extra costs to claim:

  1. Give Matt any boarding passes or hotel receipts. The UCL Finance Office require documentary evidence that you actually went abroad before they'll advance money for your next trip. In any case, it's good practice to provide Matt with major receipts (e.g., for hotel bills) in case the grant gets audited by STFC (it happens!)
  2. Complete the PATT expenditure form (pdf, odt) and return it to idh. The most important thing on the form is the total cost of the trip, in sterling (just add together the travel & subsistence costs).

Other Points

  1. Just to be clear: UCL practice is to pay subsistence at standard rates, and all other expenses (e.g., travel costs) against actual costs, supported by receipts. (The standard subsistence rates can be determined from the link given previously.)
  2. PATT doesn't support student training. Please don't put anything to do with student training in the PATT books.
  3. Support for observing on non-PATT telescopes varies from time to time. If in doubt, please check the current approved list.
  4. UCL will provide basic insurance cover, if requested from Matt on the standard form. Neither UCL nor STFC will pay for any additional insurance cover you may wish to take out.
  5. If you have any questions, feel free to ask idh.

Page last modified on 16 jul 10 13:40