Las Cumbres Observatory is soliciting proposals for science observations for the 2018A semester, which will begin on 1 December 2017 and run through 31 May 2018. This call is for astronomers from institutions without guarantees of Network time: the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), the University of Colorado, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC). Astronomers affiliated with LCO, including Time Allocation Committee members and Science Advisory Committee members, are also welcome to submit proposals. (LCO's Science Collaboration partners that have guaranteed time conduct independent proposal solicitations and reviews.)
For the 2018A semester, Las Cumbres Observatory has two 2-meter telescopes, nine 1-meter telescopes and three 0.4-meter telescopes available for science observations. We also plan to deploy three new 0.4-meter telescopes (to Chile, Texas, and South Africa) that will become part of the network in 2018A. The 2m telescopes are equipped with Spectral imagers and FLOYDS low-dispersion spectrographs. The 1m telescopes are equipped with Sinistro imagers. The first element of the Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs (NRES) is installed on 1m telescopes at our Cerro Tololo site. NRES elements at other sites will begin commissioning observations at the end of the 2017AB semester, and users will be notified when they become available for science observations during 2018A. The 0.4m telescopes are equipped with SBIG imagers. For information on all Network instruments, please consult the Observatory Instruments page.
In the 2018A semester, we estimate that approximately 500 hours of 2m time, 750 hours of 1m time, and 3500 hours of 0.4m time will be available.
Eligibility to apply to this call is limited to members of institutions with which LCO has formal agreements, but without guaranteed time, and to individuals from LCO and other institutions who are included by special permission of the LCO Director. The list of eligible institutions includes LCO itself, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech, the University of Colorado, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC).
Proposals must be submitted through LCO's website, but before you can submit a proposal, you must register at LCO's Observatory portal. When you have access to the portal, you can click on the "Create or edit proposals" link to access the web-based proposal form.
We recommend that you consult the Guidelines for Writing Proposals. The Guidelines page contains a description of the proposal format, information on the available instruments, and links to the Observatory Tools. The tools that are particularly useful when preparing proposals are the exposure time calculator and the target visibility calculator, which shows how observable a given position (RA & Dec) is on the LCO Network.
LCO supports two observing modes: queue-scheduled and rapid-response. Queue-scheduled observations are sequences of one or more "blocks", defined by a single time window (for one) or a cadence (for more than one). A block is a set of integrations, intended to be executed contiguously. A block may be several identical exposures or it may involve filter changes or exposure time changes. Rapid-response observations are intended to take place as quickly as possible (typically within 12 minutes of the target's availability). Execution of a rapid-response observation will terminate an ongoing queue-scheduled block. Proposals must request queue-scheduled and rapid-response time allocations separately, and rapid-response requests must be adequately justified.
Authors of proposals that have special scheduling constraints (e.g., simultaneous observations by two telescopes, multi-night or multi-site timeseries) are strongly advised to contact LCO personnel for advice on feasibility before submission.
Time charged includes all the overhead associated with slewing the telescope, acquiring the target, preparing the instrument, and reading out the detector, in addition to the actual exposure time. You should include overheads in the time request in your proposal. Overhead information is available in a table in the Guidelines for Writing Proposals, as well as on the Instruments page. Use the appropriate Slew & Settle time and Acquisition & Setup time for each new object, then add the readout time for each separate exposure.
Time is charged for all exposures attempted, regardless of the quality or delivery of the data.
The Observatory portal displays the number of hours of an approved allocation that have been used.
All proposals will be reviewed by a Time Allocation Committee (TAC) whose members are selected from the astronomical community and are not affiliated with LCO. Proposals will be evaluated based on scientific merit, experimental design, and credibility of the proposing team. We welcome proposals that have a significant educational component. For proposals that are accepted, our goal is to execute all observation requests. Only observations that can be executed during the 2018A semester (1 December 2017 - 31 May 2018) may be requested. TAC priority will be used to guide choices, all other things being equal. Rapid-response observations necessarily have higher priorities than other observations, thus the need for explicit justification.