Writing proposals

At present, LCO accepts regular (i.e., non-key-project) science proposals from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech, the University of Colorado, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), and members of the (extended) LCOGT science team.

Proposal submission

Proposals must be submitted through LCO's Observatory portal. Users must first register. After registering, users can click on the "Create or edit proposals" link to access the web-based proposal form. (The form is made available after the call for proposals is issued.) Details of the proposal format are given below.

Observatory Instruments and Software Tools

Details about the imaging cameras, the spectrographs, and the available filters can be found on the Observatory instruments page.

The Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) can help you estimate your observing time budget. The ETC will calculate the exposure time required to achieve a given signal-to-noise ratio for an object of a given magnitude. You refine the calculation by selecting the telescope class (2m, 1m, or 0.4m), filter (U, B, V, etc.), lunar phase, and airmass.

The Target Visibility Calculator shows how observable a given position (RA & Dec) are on the LCOGT network. A target's "seasonal visibility" is the UT range that the target is visible over a range a dates. A target's "daily visibility" is its trajectory of altitudes/airmasses as seen at the network sites on a particular (user-selected) day.

Observation overheads 

Every observation has a time overhead associated with it. For every new object acquired, there are associated Slew & Settle times and Acquisition & Setup times.  For every integration, there is an associated readout time. And for every FLOYDS spectrum, there are associated calibration (reference arc and flat) observations.  Calibration observations (biases, darks, flats) for the imagers are obtained during twilight, and  the time for these is not charged to users.  

When calculating the observing budget for your proposal, you should takes these times into account:

slew & settle 120s 120s 180s 90s 90s
acquisition & setup
(includes filter change for imagers)
150s 15s 530s 18s 18s
readout 26s 19s 150s 42s 14s
(arc and flat at target position)
95s - NA - -

Example 1: An observation request that consists of three 60s exposures through the V filter with Sinistro. Total request = 90s (slew and settle) + 18s (acquisition and setup) + [3 x (60s + 42s) (exposure plus readout)] = 414 seconds.

Example 2: A 15-minute integration with FLOYDS. Total request = 120s (slew and settle) + 150s (acquisition and setup) + 900s (exposure) + 26s (readout) + 95s (calibration) = 1291 seconds.

Proposal format

Below is a list of the fields that must be completed in the proposal submission interface to successfully submit a science proposal.

Title Limited to 100 characters
Abstract Limited to 1500 characters
Principal Investigator If this is not the author, add the PI's last name, first name, email address and institution name (comma separated list).
Co-investigators Last names, first names, email addresses and institution names (in comma separated lists) of Co-Is.
Observing budget Requested observing time in hours on each instrument for the duration of the semester. Specify time requested for rapid-response and time-critical observations separately.
Moon Whether the program can or cannot use bright time, or whether this is not important.
Science justification Background information and a statement of the goals of the project. The results of any previous time allocated for this project should be discussed. Pertinent references should be included. Figures may be embedded or appended.
Experimental design A description of the strategy of your observing program, including the characteristics of your targets, what measurements you will make from the data, and what additional work you will do to address your science goals. This section must include an explanation of your observing budget, in which you justify the instruments, the exposure times, and the total number of hours you’re requesting. You must provide independent justification for requests for Rapid Response or Time Critical observations. If unusual scheduling constraints might impact your success, identify them.
Related programs on other telescopes A concise account of other programs which relate to this proposal.
Report on past use of LCO time A concise account of time used on LCO network in the past 3 years.
Applicant's related publications Up to 10 relevant publications from past 3 years.

Data Access

Pipeline reduced data may be searched and downloaded through the LCO Science Archive.  Data are typically available in the archive by six hours following the end of the night at each telescope.  In cases where quicker access to the data is scientifically justified, arrangements can be made to download "quick-reduced" data directly from LCO.

Science data has a default proprietary period of 12 months from the time of a given observation.  Data that has reached the end of its proprietary period is accessible from the LCO Science Archive.