Skip to content

TOM Proposals


Call for Proposals

The goal of this program is to stimulate observational follow-up programs using Target and Observation Manager systems, especially (though not limited to) those using alerts from ZTF and other current surveys, providing the opportunity to prepare to do science with LSST alerts and data products. Both observing time and limited grant support are available to eligible investigators.


Team applications are encouraged. At least one Principle or Co-investigator on each proposal is required to have attended the TOM Workshop: Managing Observing Programs in the Era of ZTF and LSST (Pasadena, Sept/Oct 2019) in person. Members of the meeting Science Organizing Committee (SOC) who wish to participate in a proposal must recuse themselves from the Evaluating Panel. Applications are welcomed from all countries.

Key Dates

Proposal submission deadline: 13 October 2019, by 11:59pm PDT
Observations/grants start: 1 December 2019, at midnight UTC
Observations/grants end: 31 December 2020, at 11:59pm UTC


The participating observatories have dedicated the following pool of hours of observing time to proposals under this call. There are no limits on what fraction of this dedicated time, eligible applicants can request. Proposals may request any of the instruments listed below on any single facility or any combination of facilities:

  • 1000 hrs on the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) 1m network
    • Any instrument
  • 50 hrs on the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)
    • Any instrument
  • 50 hrs on the Gemini Telescopes (North, GN and South, GS)
    • GMOS-S/N - imaging, longslit, IFU, MOS, no R600 grating (GS/GN)
      • Time needs to be requested separately. If only requesting only one then please indicate whether the other site is acceptable.
      • No rToO with MOS, at least a week of lead time for mask cutting.
    • FLAMINGOS-2 - imaging, longslit (GS)
    • NIRI imaging (GN)
    • NIFS IFU spec (GN)
    • GNIRS imaging and longslit (GN)
    • GN LGS with NIRI/NIFS/GNIRS (sToOs with at least 3 business days notice, GN)
    • GRACES spec (availability is restricted to limited observing runs, GN)
    • `Alopeke speckle imaging (there may be scheduling restrictions, GN)

Proposals that take advantage of queue-mode observation scheduling are strongly encouraged but not required. Applicants requesting queue mode should verify that their requested instrument configuration is supported by the facility concerned. If manual or remote observing is essential, applicants should demonstrate that they meet the criteria of the appropriate facilities for conducting observations. More information can be found on the facilities websites at:

Las Cumbres Observatory
Gemini Observatory
SOAR Observatory

Proposals are encouraged to distribute their observations throughout the 2020 A and B semesters if possible. For programs that are active for all of 2020, no more than 60% of the Gemini observations can be requested, or triggered, during a single semester.

Teams that independently have access to additional facilities are welcome to use those facilities (through their separate proposals process) in addition to, or instead of, the telescopes participating in this program.

In addition, grants up to the amount of (US) $45,000 per proposal are available. Applicants may apply for a grant and/or telescope time. All grant payments will be made in US dollars to a single recipient. Requests for grants may include items such as equipment, travel, publication charges and services such as Cloud hosting fees, as well as personnel salaries.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should be in English, should be prepared using the template provided below, and submitted as a PDF that meets the following criteria:

  • 12-pt font and a minimum of 1-inch margins on all sides used throughout the document, with the exception of figures, where a minimum of 10-pt font may be used.
  • All information regarding the names, affiliations and contact details of all applicants must be confined to the first page of the proposal, to enable them to be easily anonymized for evaluation.
  • To facilitate anonymous review, proposals should endeavour to use third person, neutral wording wherever possible. For example, when citing references, phrases such as " we showed in Name et al[date]” should be avoided, along with specifying individuals when explaining the development plans.
  • Uses the same layout, sections and page limits indicated in the template.

Click here for the LaTeX proposal template.

All proposals should include the following sections and respect the indicated page limits:

  1. Proposer information [1 page, 1st page only to enable proposals to be anonymized during evaluation]
    1. Name, affiliation and email address of the Principle Investigator
    2. Names, affiliations and email addresses of all Co-Investigators
  2. Scientific Justification [up to 2 pages]
  3. Figures, Tables and References [up to 1 page]
  4. Experimental Design [up to 1 page]
    1. This should include full details of the instruments requested, observing strategy and all necessary configuration and calibration information.
  5. Observing Time Request [up to 1 page per facility]
    1. Proposals should justify the time requested for each telescope and instrument separately in both a text description and tabular summary. Note that Gemini-N and Gemini-S time should be distinguished. The LCO 1m Network may be requested as a single facility with separate entries for different instrument classes.
    2. Proposals must include all relevant observation scheduling constraints, for example limits on target visibility, if known, any preference for bright/dark time, or cloud, airmass and/or seeing constraints where these are supported by the participating facilities.
    3. Observing time estimates should include all appropriate instrument overheads and any time required for calibration data that is not provided by the observatory.
    4. For each facility, proposals must indicate the observing mode required (Queue, Remote or Visitor), and applicants should verify with each facility that their desired instrument will be available in the mode requested. They must also demonstrate that they meet any requirements of the participating facilities to conduct observations in these modes.
    5. If Rapid Response or Target-of-Opportunity (ToO, either rapid or standard) observations are required, these should be clearly justified and described. Similarly, if remote or visitor-mode observations are necessary, this should be explained.
    6. Proposals requesting Gemini time should append representative results from the Integration Time Calculators with the proposal PDF, to assist with the technical assessment of the proposal. Information on Gemini ToO policies can be found here.
  6. Previous and Complementary Programs [up to 1 page]
    1. If the proposal PI or CoIs have used any of the participating facilities within the last 3 calendar years, they should summarize their program(s), allocation(s), current status, outcome(s) and any publications.
    2. If the proposal application depends on observations to be conducted on other facilities, the status of the complementary proposals and the eligibility of the proposing team for the complementary facilities must be indicated.
    3. Teams are reminded to use anonymized phrasing where at all possible, and need only indicate that team members are leading or have led other proposals.
    4. If no previous or complementary observations have been made, this section may be left blank.
  7. Development Plan [up to 1 page]
    1. This section should include a work plan for development, with a timeline and milestones, indicating the roles of personnel involved.
    2. It must also describe the team’s plans for sharing and documenting the products of their program, including software, raw and reduced data products and publications. Proposals that make their products publically accessible through well-established archival services are strongly endorsed. Teams are encouraged to publish both scientific and software contributions.
  8. Budget Outline [single table, <1 page]
    1. If a grant is requested, an exact total amount should be given in US $, with a short table summarizing the approximate amounts for different items. Costs may include (and are not limited to) labor, equipment, travel, services and publications.
    2. If no funds are required, this section may be left blank.
    3. The proposals should only include the total funds requested for each category over the lifetime of the grant. In particular, if labor costs are included, NO details of fringe benefits (e.g. health insurance provided by the employing institution) or overheads (e.g. institutional administrative costs) need to be provided.
  9. Target list [optional, no page limit]
    1. If targets are known in advance, the proposal should include all relevant details in tabular format.

Proposals that violate these criteria will be evaluated solely on the information on the allowed number of pages and will likely receive a lower ranking from the Time Allocation Committee (TAC).

Proposal Submission

Proposals must be submitted before 11:59pm PDT on 13 October 2019, as a single PDF-format attachment by email to

Evaluation of Proposals

All proposals will be anonymized, prior to being evaluated by a TAC composed of selected members of the SOC for the TOM Development Program and Workshop and invited experts. Proposers will be notified with the results of the selection process by 15 November 2019.

Reporting Requirements

Successful proposals will be expected to submit a report at the end of the program summarizing all aspects of their observing and development work, and a description of any resulting software, data products and publications. Teams are expected to contribute to the TOM Toolkit User Community, for example by writing plugins and/or service interfaces which are made publically available and may be incorporated into the Toolkit for the benefit of the wider community.


Follow the workshop on Twitter: #TOMWorkshop

and on the LSSTC Slack channel: