Call for proposals 2013A

Call for Proposals to use the LCOGT 2m telescope facilities

Semester dates and deadline

The 2013A semester runs from 1 April 2013 to 30 September, 2013.

Proposals should be submitted by 15 February 2013, 23:59 UTC.

Faulkes Telescope South after the Siding Spring fire

The Warrumbungle National Park, home of the Siding Spring Observatory and FTS, is currently suffering a serious bushfire which has destroyed a number of structures close to the Observatory including the Observer's Lodge. Although this fire is still burning at the time of writing, it appears that the telescopes have survived. FTS itself has lost a cable to its external weather station but otherwise appears to be OK. Needless to say, much work and some repairs will be necessary before it can return to operation. This will probably cause a delay in the engineering work we had planned for late February/early March 2013,  including the realuminizing of the primary mirror.  At this stage we hope to have FTS back in operation within approximately 1.5 months but we cannot make accurate predictions.  Once it does return to operation, we expect to have to close the dome during periods of relatively low wind speeds, to avoid blowing ash entering the dome.  FTS may therefore have reduced on-sky time over the course of the 2013A semester.

NEW INSTRUMENT: THE FLOYDS LONG-SLIT SPECTROGRAPH

Both FTN and FTS have new FLOYDS long-slit spectrographs. Both instruments are operational and we are currently completing the integration of them with our robotic control system. For this reason, and due to the additional work currently involved in operating them, a number of additional rules apply:

  • A small number of proposals will be accepted for these instruments in 2013A
  • All proposals using them will be executed on a shared risk basis.
  • All proposals using them are required to have Instrument Scientist David Sand directly involved.  PIs should contact David in good time before the deadline to check the feasibility of their project.

See the FLOYDS web page for full instrument description.

WHO CAN APPLY FOR TELESCOPE TIME?

Eligibility to apply to this call is limited to members of institutions with which LCOGT has formal agreements, and to individuals from other institutions who are principal investigators on an observing projects that have been granted Faulkes Telescope time during the last 2 years. The list of eligible institutions includes LCOGT itself, UCSB, UH, ANU, MacQuarie U., ARI, and the Faulkes Telescope Project. I am sending this to a representative (but not exhaustive) list of people at those institutions. If you are one of these, please pass this message to your interested colleagues. I have tried to make an exhaustive list of eligible individuals from other institutions; if you are getting this email directly from me, you may assume you are on my list and are eligible. If you get this call by other means and think you qualify, then please excuse my oversight, and get in touch.

To those connected with programs to which we already have made major commitments (e.g. the schools programs, Faulkes Telescope Project, U. Hawaii, ANU, ARI, and Robonet.) I ask that you please submit proposals anyway.  In particular, please tell me the fraction of hours that you expect to use for fixed-group observing, for queue-scheduled observing, (flexible and monitor groups), and for ToO observing.  I will email each of these groups separately in a few days with the number of hours that they may expect to receive this semester.

FORMATING ADVICE

  • We suggest that references be placed within the 2 pages allocated for figures,
  • Please use a minimum font size of 11pt throughout the proposal,
  • Please see the Guidelines for applying for telescope time for a more comprehensive list.

OBSERVING OVERHEADS

When estimating the number of exposures required, please factor in the following overheads:

  • Spectral/Merope bin 2x2 readout time is ~22sec.
  • Filter change time for both cameras is on average ~30s but may be longer if the filters are in different wheels.

PROPOSAL PRIORITY

Most proposals will be allocated a priority automatically by the TAC. However, we also offer background-priority ranking, which can be selected on the proposal form. Background programs are intended to fill gaps in the schedule when no other program can be done, by providing reservoir of observations which can be executed at any time and (ideally) in any conditions. Please note that only queue-scheduled observations can be made through a background proposal, and no guarantees can be made as to its execution. Nevertheless, background proposals should clearly state the amount of time requested. All other proposals should go through the standard TAC-ranked channel.

To those connected with programs to which we already have made major commitments (e.g. the schools programs, U. Hawaii, ANU, ARI, and Robonet.) I ask that you please submit proposals anyway. In particular, please tell me the fraction of hours that you expect to use for fixed-group observing, for queue-scheduled observing, (flexible and monitor groups), and for ToO observing. I will email each of these groups separately in a few days with the number of hours that they may expect to receive this semester.

How do I apply?

Instructions on how to apply for telescope time can be found on the Guidelines for applying for telescope time page:
http://lcogt.net/science/article/guidelines-applying-telescope-time
where you can download the Latex template and style files for your proposal.

To submit the proposal, you will need to register at our 2-meter proposal portal:
http://lcogt.net/science/tac/
and then follow the Submit Proposal link.

Types of observation

We ask users to propose for time based on the type of observing required by their programs, as reflected in the Proposal Template.  These types are Fixed-block, Queue-scheduled, and Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations. This distinction is necessary because the observation types differ with respect to the mechanism by which observations are scheduled, and the expected cost in telescope resource per hour of on-sky time.

If you desire fixed-block time, do not pad your request to allow for possible bad weather;  ask for what your science requires.  The TAC will take weather into account (up to a factor of 2 padding) without your asking.  If, however, such padding does not make sense (perhaps you wish to observe a once-in-a-century event, for which repeat observing is not possible), then please put a statement to this effect in the body of your proposal.

If the TAC awards you fixed-block observing time for your science you will be allocated an LCOGT liaison astronomer. Please coordinate the scheduling and the particulars of your observing requirements directly with them.  Give as much advance warning as possible so we can resolve any conflicting programs, but at least 3-5 weeks (the schedule is usually done in 2-week blocks, with requests due 3 weeks before the start of the block).

Time charging policy

The rules for how time is deducted from a user's observing program based on the observation type are as follows:

Fixed-block Observations

  • For every fixed-block observation scheduled to be observed, an equal amount of time is deducted from the total available to that program in the semester, regardless of the quality of the data collected or whether any data were collected at all.
  • Programs may release a requested block (by contacting your LCOGT liaison) up to 7 days prior to the date of the scheduled observation. If blocks are released, the corresponding program will not be charged for the time. After that point, all requested blocks are treated as scheduled blocks and will be charged accordingly.
    • This policy is in place to prevent users from gaming the system,whereby many blocks may be scheduled in advance and then released before the observations are made in order, for example, to avoid predicted bad weather conditions or to flood the schedule early on to prevent competitors from scheduling observations at times which might later be deemed valuable.

Queue-scheduled Observations (inc. those for Background Proposals)

  • These observations are charged by adding open-shutter time, instrument cycle time (including readout and other dead time), and a flat fee for other.
  • Queue-scheduled observations are charged if the observations are
    attempted and data are delivered, regardless of data quality. No time refunds
    will be given for cloudy conditions, poor focus, and/or other technical
    problems with the camera or telescope, for instance.

ToO Observations

  • ToO observations will be charged once triggered, regardless of the quality or delivery of the data. If the ToO agent is controlling the telescope, that time is debited from the program.

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