Network Time Allocation Process

Standard Proposals

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.

The most recent call for standard proposals is posted in the News section of the website.

Key Project Proposals

Proposals for Key Projects are accepted annually. (The deadline typically coincides with the deadline for A semester proposals, see below.) 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.

The deadline for the most recent call for key project proposals was December 15, 2016.

Director's Discretionary Time Proposals

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.

LCO Semesters

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

If you intend to compose a proposal for the LCO network, we recommend that you consult our guidelines for writing proposals, as well as the "Getting Started" Guide.

Science Collaboration Institutions

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
ARI/Liverpool John Moores University   75 75 0
AURA (on behalf of the Chilean astronomical community)   0 600 200
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 0
St. Andrews University   0 3300 0
University of Texas   0 300 0
Wise Observatory/I-CORE   0 1400 0
Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias   0 0 800
Las Cumbres Observatory, Inc.   1965 8525


Total   4000 18000 14000

The approximate number of hours per year is scaled to an estimate of 1000 usable hours per telescope per semester.

Additional Science Collaboration Institutions

These institutions are not guaranteed observing time with the LCO Network but are eligible to apply for LCO's share.

Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech  
University of California at Santa Barbara  
University of Colorado  

LCO's Time Allocation Committee >

If you intend to compose a proposal for the LCO network, we recommend that you consult our guidelines for writing proposals, as well as the "Getting Started" Guide.

Create a Proposal >

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