LCO's year is subdivided into two observing semesters, each 6 months long. Standard proposals from astronomers affiliated with LCO's Science Collaboration institutions are accepted every semester. The Science Collaboration partners allocate their shares of time according to their own TAC procedures. They may elect to assign some of their time to Key Projects (see below) with which they are involved.
For LCO's own share of observing time, standard proposals are accepted from astronomers affiliated with LCO's non-guaranteed-time partners: the University of California at Santa Barbara, The University of Colorado, and IPAC at Caltech . Proposals are also accepted from members of LCO's scientific family: current staff, astronomers who were postdocs at LCO in the last 5 years, and astronomers who served on our advisory and allocation committees in the last 2 years.
The LCO Time Allocation Committee evaluates all proposals on their scientific merits, and returns a ranked list of proposals plus advice on scheduling. The Director assigns time to successful proposals and contacts the authors. Time allocations to standard proposals are for a single semester only.
Proposals for Key Projects are typically accepted annually. Key Projects are large, coherent observing programs designed to take maximum advantage of the unique attributes of the LCO network to address important astrophysical problems. Key Projects are expected to have a duration between one and three years. Astronomers affiliated with LCO's Science Collaboration institutions may submit proposals for Key Projects.
Key Projects are expected to acquire several hundred (perhaps several thousand) hours of observations, and large project teams are assembled to carry these out. The level of effort will be significant, but the potential return is great. Because LCO is contributing large amounts of telescope time to support Key Projects, collaborators on proposing teams from other institutions are required to commit significant resources to the effort. Such resources could be access to other facilities, or additional time on the LCO network from their own institution, or computing resources, or scientist time.
LCO does not allocate all (expected) observing hours to TAC-reviewed science projects. Some hours are held in reserve and may be allocated at the discretion of LCO's director. These discretionary hours are intended for observations of unforeseen targets-of-opportunity. Astronomers affiliated with an institution in LCO's Science Collaboration are eligible to submit proposals for discretionary time. However, the proposals must clearly justify why the observations must be carried out more immediately than the normal proposal/review cycle allows. Proposals for discretionary time may be submitted at any time, but the time expires at the conclusion of the current semester. A standard proposal must be submitted (and approved) to sustain observations for the same science project into the new semester.
Semester Start End Proposal Deadline TAC Meeting A 1 December 31 May early October early November B 1 June 30 November early April early May
These institutions are guaranteed observing time with the LCO Network.
Institution Approximate hours per year 2m 1m 0.4m Australian National University 200 400 400 AURA (on behalf of the Chilean astronomical community) 0 600 400 Faulkes Telescope Project 1020 0 0 Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii 300 0 600 National Astronomical Observatories of China 0 400 0 National Science Foundation 440 2400 0 South African Astronomical Observatory 0 600 200 St. Andrews University 0 3300 0 University of Texas 0 600 200 Wise Observatory/I-CORE 0 1400 0 Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias 0 0 800 Las Cumbres Observatory, Inc. 1965 8525 17400 Total 4000 18000 20000
The approximate number of hours per year is scaled to an estimate of 1000 usable hours per telescope per semester.
These institutions are not guaranteed observing time with the LCO Network but are eligible to apply for LCO's share.