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Becoming a Global Sky Partner

We are looking for people and groups with interesting, engaging, and innovative ideas for educational projects in astronomy. We are particularly interested in programs that will provide science engagement through astronomy for typically underserved populations anywhere in the world. If you have a really good idea that you think is appropriate for LCO, we will be happy to discuss that possibility with you and even help you get your project started.

We are looking for:

  • Projects that make use of LCO’s unique capabilities, which include our global network of telescopes and scheduling software. Projects which involve monitoring of astronomical events or following up on recent astronomical discoveries are particularly suitable.
  • Projects targeting under-served audiences. This can be in the developing world, or disengaged communities in the developed world d that are not typically engaged by main stream programs.
  • Medium-sized or large groups. If your audience size is less than ~20, you may have a more structured experience by joining an existing Global Sky Partner program.
  • Formal or informal education projects. Projects are not limited to ones directly related to school curriculum. Original research projects involving students and purely science communication projects are also of great interest.

We welcome applications from:

  • Structured programs working with students or teachers. Applications from individual teachers for projects which only involve their students will only be considered if they provide ways to scale up the project to include more teachers. LCO is able to help set up such projects, but it will be the responsibility of the project leader(s) to maintain the project.
  • Structured programs working with amateur astronomers. We are not expecting applications from individual astronomical societies unless you are proposing a large scale project with well defined scientific and educational goals. Preferably you would also have a plan on how your project could be increased in scale, e.g. to combine different communities of amateurs.
  • Museums, planetaria, science centers offering structured programs to their visitors.
  • International groups offering structured programs. Such a program could serve a community anywhere on Earth (or even spanning different countries) and in any language. We only require that your leaders be able to communicate with LCO in English. 
  • People involved in astronomy education with interesting and innovative ideas, suited to LCO’s capabilities. For such an experimental program you must give full details of what you plan to achieve, and how you will support and manage your audience. Your application will need to convince the review panel that you have fully considered the educational (formal, informal, or science communication) goals of the project, the amount of time you will need, and how you will support and build your community.

We provide:

  • Observation time on our telescopes. A total of 500 hours of time on our 0.4m telescope network is available to be shared by all education partner project, annually (unused quota will not be automatically available for use in subsequent years).
  • There is no fee to becoming an education partner and for using LCO through this program. LCO will bear all of the costs of providing telescope time, including the associated support and infra-structure costs.
  • Mentoring in setting up your project, including any links with other partners, testing of LCO facilities, use of our Observing Portal and APIs, and discussion of educational content.
  • On-going support for your project coordinators during your project.

Education partners provide:

  • Individual user support. You will be the primary support contact for your users. LCO will assist with technical problems or bugs only through each partner's point of contact.
  • Educational support materials. You will be responsible for creating all the support materials and education activity documents needed for your audience to participate in your project.
  • Progress reports for your project and information on the successes of your project participants to LCO.

For astronomy clubs in schools:

If you run an astronomy club in a school you can apply to become a Global Sky Club. Please see the Global Sky Clubs page for more information.

University student projects

We have a limited amount of telescope resources to offer and although we welcome all applications, priority will be given to those projects engaging with elementary through high school students or the general public. This call is not appropriate for faculty wanting to provide educational, training or research projects to their undergraduates. However, we welcome applications targeting universities and students in the developing world.

Pilot Partners

We recognise that you might miss the annual opportunity to apply. Throughout the year you can apply to be a Pilot Partner, to try out your project ideas. Pilot Partners can apply for at most 10 hours of observing time on the LCO 0.4-meter network. All of the criteria above are applicable to your proposal and you are welcome to apply to become a Global Sky Partner at the appropriate time.

To apply please complete our Pilot Partner application form.

Guidance for writing a proposal

  • We anticipate this proposal round will be very competitive as many of our previous partners will be reapplying for time.
  • Be as complete as possible when describing your project. Each application will be judged by a panel and ranked against other applications.
  • Be as realistic as possible with what you plan to achieve. We would rather discuss adding more time to your project during the year than allocating much more than you use.
  • If appropriate, make sure that your targets are observable by our 0.4m telescopes, e.g. they are bright enough, will have good visibility from LCO 0.4m sites during the lifetime of your project, and will not require real-time, "live" or "interactive" observing (which we do not offer).
  • We have created a table for estimating target exposure times, a target visibility plotting tool and tutorials to assist with observing requests.
  • You do not need to submit a list of targets with your proposal.
  • For other enquires relating to your application, please contact Edward Gomez - egomez(at)

Who are LCO education partners?

By education partner we mean a group or organization who manage astronomy education activities with a particular target audience. These education partners observe astronomical phenomena with LCO and use the data as part of their educational activities.

For example, we have several education partners whose audiences are teachers. These partners provide teachers with an LCO observing account, educational resources (e.g. background science, tutorials on analyzing astronomical data, target lists), and mentoring to support them in the process of using the LCO observing portal to obtain data for use in their project.

In all cases, each partner communicates with their audience directly (either in person or over the internet) throughout their project. If any members of these education partner projects run into difficulties or notice problems, they report them to a mentor provided by their education partner. Each education partner has a point of contact who communicates any appropriate issues to LCO. These could be queries about the quality of images, reporting bugs in our observing portal, feature requests, or questions about how the scheduling software works. We then work with the partner contact to address these queries.

You can see a full list of current Global Sky Partners on our Global Sky Partners web page.