Call for Proposals 2020B

Feb 14, 2020

Las Cumbres Observatory is soliciting proposals for science observations for the 2020B semester, which will begin on 1 July 2020 and run through 31 January 2021. 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.)

The deadline for submission is April 23, 2020 at 23:59 UTC.

For the 2020B semester, Las Cumbres Observatory has two 2-meter telescopes, eleven 1-meter telescopes and ten 0.4-meter telescopes available for science observations. The 2m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory (Faulkes Telescope South) is equipped with a Spectral imager and a FLOYDS low-dispersion spectrograph. The 2m telescope at Haleakala Observatory (Faulkes Telescope North) will be equipped with a MuSCAT 4-band multi-channel imager and a FLOYDS low-dispersion spectrograph. The 1m telescopes are equipped with Sinistro imagers.  The Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs (NRES) has units installed on 1m telescopes at our Cerro Tololo (Chile), McDonald (Texas), Sutherland (South Africa), and Wise (Israel) sites. The 0.4m telescopes are equipped with SBIG imagers. For information on all Network instruments, please consult the Observatory Instruments page.

During the 2020B semester, we expect two additional 1m telescopes (at Teide Observatory) to become available for science observations.

The 2020B semester will run from July 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021.


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).  

Proposal Submission

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.

Observing Modes

LCO supports three observing modes:

  • 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.
  • Time-critical observations must be made at relatively tightly constrained times that rarely occur. Examples are predictable (but infrequent) transits, observations simultaneous with other observatories, and follow-up to rare events that evolve quickly. These observations are submitted to the scheduler with high priority, so that they have a good chance of getting scheduled at the critical time.
  • Rapid-response observations are intended to take place as quickly as possible (typically within 10 minutes of the target's availability). Execution of a rapid-response observation will terminate an ongoing queue-scheduled block. If a rapid-response observation cannot be executed immediately, it will be executed as soon as possible, up to a limit of 6 hours.

Proposals must request queue-scheduled, time-critical and rapid-response time observations separately, and time-critical 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 time series) are strongly advised to contact LCO personnel for advice on feasibility before submission.

Observation Overheads and Time Charging Policy

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.

Proposal Evaluation and Priority

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 2020B semester (1 July 2020 - 31 January 2021) may be requested. TAC priority will be used to guide choices, all other things being equal.  Time-critical and Rapid-response observations necessarily have higher priorities than other observations, thus the need for explicit justification.

The deadline for submission is 23 April 2020, 23:59 UTC.

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