The NOAO Data Handbook  (NEW! Version 2.2, May 2015)

A guide to accessing and using data from major NOAO instruments.  The Data Handbook describes the formats and characteristics of raw data, and the pipeline processing applied to all recent and current observations and its data products. It also describes how to access these data in the NOAO Science Archive.

Newly updated (v2.2, May 2015), the NOAO Data Handbook now includes:

  • Introduction to NOAO data: holdings, formats, the NOAO Science Archive, data use policies
  • Mosaic cameras
  • NEWFIRM infrared imager
  • Dark Energy Camera
  • C/KOSMOS spectrographs

C/KOSMOS Cookbook   (Version 0.9, October 2015)

New documentation on the COSMOS (CTIO) and KOSMOS (KPNO) instruments.  Intended as a guide to data reduction and calibration for PIs and Archive users of data from NOAO’s twin multi-object imaging spectrographs.

Online Help for NOAO Data Archives

Help for finding and downloading data from observations made with NOAO facilities.

Help for finding and downloading NOAO Survey Data

Dark Energy Survey - Guide to the DES Year 1 Data Release

February 2015:  Reduced data products from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) Year 1 data release are now available in the NOAO Science Archive. The data release consists of a large number of DECam images in several sky areas, individually reduced and calibrated (photometrically and astrometrically) by the DES science team.  The DES-Y1 Release Notes describe these data products in detail.  The NOAO Science Archive Simple Query Form now includes buttons that simplify searches for both raw and reduced DES images.

DECam Pipeline Versions  (July 2015)

Table detailing the NOAO DECam pipeline versiona dn the associated Community pipeline versions from DESDM.  Includes the date the pipeline was deployed and the changes in the version.

NOAO File-naming Conventions

A guide to file names in the NOAO archive, addressing both raw and pipeline-reduced data products.

Data Reduction

IRAF documentation includes manuals for the IRAF language as well as cookbooks and manuals for both generic data reduction and specific NOAO instruments. provides information and support from the IRAF Development Group, including a user forum, IRAF documentation and user guides, and FAQ pages.

A guide to NEWFIRM data reduction in IRAF.

Pipeline documentation provides information about the design, performance, and use of the data reduction pipelines that have been produced for instruments on NOAO telescopes.

Other software tools and NOAO Science Data Management projects

FPACK - Instructions for the FPACK routines used for compressing and uncompressing FITS data stored in the NOAO Science Archive.

Last updated or reviewed January 19, 2017.