The deadline for Gemini proposals in Semester 2014B has now passed. We will begin accepting proposals for Semester 2015A in early September 2014.
The nominal proposal deadline for the A semester (Feb-July) each year is 5:00pm AEST on 30 September the year before; and for the B semester (Aug-Jan) is 5:00pm AEST on 31 March of that year. When the proposal deadline falls on a weekend or a public holiday, it may be moved a day or two earlier or later. A Call for Proposals is normally issued via the Astronomical Society of Australia e-mail exploder about a month prior to the deadline.
- What's new in this semester?
- Instruments on Gemini North
- Instruments on Gemini South
- Instruments on Subaru
- Available Time
- Classical observing with Gemini
- Remote Eavesdropping with Gemini
- Submitting a Proposal
- Need help?
- Maximising your chances of getting time (and data!)
- Astronomy Australia Ltd and AusGO have secured funding from the Australian government's NCRIS-2013 program to assist student Principal Investigators enrolled at an Australian institution who are awarded queue or classical time on Gemini by ATAC in Semesters 2014B and/or 2015A to travel to the telescope. Travel subsidies will be made available so that students can spend a week at whichever Gemini telescope their program is scheduled on, during which time they will work alongside the queue observer to learn how the queue process and various instruments work, and may get to execute sequences from their own program. Student PIs who would be interested in taking up this opportunity should indicate this in the Technical Description section of their proposal, and successful PIs will be contacted after the Gemini allocations are announced with details on how to arrange a visit and claim the subsidy. Independently of this scheme, the Gemini Observatory is also offering travel grants for students when accompanying their supervisor to a Gemini telescope.
- The Gemini Planet Imager is offered for community use in shared-risks mode in Semester 2014B. With commissioning and early science ongoing throughout Semester 2014A, potential applicants should check the GPI current status and performance update.
- The CCDs in GMOS-South are scheduled to be replaced with new Hamamatsu CCDs in May/June 2014, and commissioned in time for the start of 2014B. The GMOS-South Integration Time Calculator will shortly be updated to include both the old EEV and the new Hamamatsu CCD arrays. Applicants for 2014B should assume the use of the new Hamamatsu detectors in planning their proposals.
- Following a recent analysis of the seeing percentiles at both sites, the seeing FWHM corresponding to IQ20 conditions has been relaxed slightly. This should reduce the number of IQ20 observations which have to be abandoned when the seeing softens over time, while still enabling PIs who need the very best image quality that Gemini can deliver to complete their programs.
- Proposals for Large & long-term Programs to commence in 2014B are also being accepted from applicants who earlier submitted a Letter Of Intent. Different page lengths and additional requirements apply to Large and long-term applications, which should use the special LaTeX or Word templates.
- The visitor instruments DSSI and TEXES are offered on Gemini North in July/August.
- There will be a guaranteed minimum of 5 nights on the Subaru telescope available to the Gemini community, including shared risks use of the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) very wide field optical to far-red imager, and 4 visitor instruments (HiCIAO, Kyoto3DII, Raven, and SCExAO) by arrangement with the instrument PI.
There are strict target accessibility limits in force. Targets for Gemini North should have 17h < RA < 24h or 0h < RA < 13.5h and -37 < Dec < +90; for Gemini South targets should have 16h < RA < 24h or 0h < RA < 12h and -90 < Dec < +28. Exceptions may be allowed for very short observations, or with relaxed observing constraints. For 2014B there are additional constraints on all LGS programs at Gemini North and Gemini South, on visitor instruments, and on GNIRS to enable instrument upgrades.
The community should note that the Observatory welcomes proposals which use the full range of observing conditions. This includes proposals that can use cloudy (CC>70%) conditions, which implies a loss of signal of at least 30%, and up to a factor of 6.
The instruments available on Gemini North are:
- the GMOS optical imager, multi-object, and integral field spectrograph. Applicants should refer to the instrument web pages for current performance with the deep depletion E2V CCDs.
- the GNIRS 1-5 micron long-slit spectrograph is available in all modes after 6 Oct (special RA limits apply), following replacement of the short red lens and installation of a blocking filter for Y-band imaging. Imaging with GNIRS is possible, although the field of view and filter selection is limited, and the optics do not give diffraction-limited image quality.
- the NIRI near-infrared imager.
- the NIFS near-infrared integral field unit spectrograph.
- the visiting DSSI dual-channel visual-wavelength camera giving simultaneous diffraction-limited images in two filters over a 2.8-5.6 arcsecond field of view. Up to 100 hours are available during July 17-27, limiting RAs to 16h to 3h.
- the visiting TEXES high resolution (R ~4,000-100,000) mid-infrared (5-25 micron) spectrometer. Up to 100 hours are available during August 7-17, limiting RAs to 16h to 3h.
GNIRS, NIRI, and NIFS can be used in conjunction with the ALTAIR adaptive optics system, using natural or laser guide stars, or in the LGS+PWFS1 "super seeing" mode. Note however that pending further probe-mapping to determine flexure, frequent reacquisition with the LGS+PWFS1 mode may be necessary.
The instruments available on Gemini South are:
- the GMOS optical imager, multi-object, and integral field spectrograph. Pending successful installation and commissioning of a new set of 3 Hamamatsu CCDs in the latter half of Semester 2014A, the performance of GMOS-S, especially at redder wavelengths, should be significantly improved.
- the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), a new adaptive optics 0.9-2.4 micron imaging/polarimeter/integral-field spectrometer is offered in shared-risks mode throughout the semester. The instrument is initially restricted to a maximum zenith distance of 40 degrees, and CC50 with IQ70 for nominal performance. Please check the GPI Observing Constraints pages for more information.
- The FLAMINGOS-2 near-infrared imager and spectrograph will be offered for imaging and long-slit spectroscopy only throughout 2014B. MOS mode is not yet offered. The current delivered image quality with FLAMINGOS-2 is equivalent to IQ20 conditions within the inner ~1 arcmin or so, and to IQ70 conditions within a 4-5 arcmin field. Note also that the spectral resolution with narrow slits varies with wavelength. Please check the FLAMINGOS-2 Status and Availability page for the latest information.
- The Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system
and the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager, which together deliver diffraction-limited
images over a 85 arcsec field of view. Targets are restricted to RA 19h through
12h and Dec -75d to +15d, and applicants should check the availability of
Guide Star constellations (with 3, 2, or even just 1 Canopus Wave Front
Sensor stars, and one On-Detector Guide Window star) using the Observing Tool
before submitting a proposal.
Although no formal limit on available GeMS/GSAOI time has been set for 2014B, it may be necessary to limit new program allocations at ITAC in light of resource constraints and rollover program requirements. Applicants should note that observations in IQ85 are possible and welcomed for programs that can use delivered images with full-width half-maximum ~0.2 arcseconds instead of the <= 0.1 arcseconds delivered in IQ70 or IQ20 conditions.
A minimum of 5 classical nights on Subaru are available to the Gemini community. The minimum request is 1 night - partial nights cannot be supported. Note that Joint Proposals may seek less than one night per partner, provided the total request is for an integer number of nights. PIs in the Gemini community who intend to use the Subaru Telescope are encouraged to apply through this time-exchange program, and not through the open use Subaru Call.
The instruments and their availability on Subaru are:
- Hyper Suprime-Cam, the new very wide field (1.5 degree field of view) optical to far-red imager is available in shared-risk mode using g, r, i, z, y filters only.
- FMOS, a near-infrared fiber-fed multi-object spectrograph, offered in shared-risk for both high- and low-resolution mode with IRS1 and IRS2. A new HR mode is offered as "H-short prime" (1.45-1.67 micron).
- COMICS, a mid-infrared camera and spectrograph.
- FOCAS, an optical imager and spectrograph with longslit, multi-slit, polarimetry, and spectropolarimetry modes.
- HDS, an optical high dispersion spectrograph with a resolution up to R=160,000 and new image slicers.
- IRCS, a near-infrared camera with coronagraphic and natural guide star adaptive optics modes, as well as longslit spectroscopy with resolution up to R=20,000.
- MOIRCS, a wide-field near-infrared imager and multi-object spectrograph is offered, but will be unavailable for a few months (possibly near the end of 2014) due to engineering work for the detector upgrade.
- Suprime-Cam, a prime-focus optical wide-field imager. The required filters must be explicitly stated in the proposal. Due to overhauling of its filter exchanger, Suprime-Cam will be unavailable for up to 3 months of 2014B, though the exact period is not fixed yet.
- 4 additional visitor instruments are also being offered in 2014B,
though observing proposals using these must include the relevant instrument
PI as a Co-investigator.
- HiCIAO provides a near-infrared imaging capability in the vicinity of bright sources.
- Kyoto3DII provides Fabry-Perot / filter imaging and integral field / long-slit spectroscopy in the optical.
- Raven is a Multi-Object Adaptive Optics(MOAO) demonstrator that delivers diffraction-limited images in 2 science channels to IRCS.
- SCExAO (Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics) delivers high contrast images of the innermost surroundings of bright sources to HiCIAO.
Note that exchange time on Subaru is "classical" observing time - someone will need to go to the telescope to carry out the observations. AusGO and AAL have secured funding from the Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme to cover the costs of observers allocated exchange time on Subaru (or classical observing time on Gemini) by ATAC along the same lines as it does for ATAC allocations on Magellan.
A total of 99 hours of time on Gemini North, and 87 hours on Gemini South are nominally available for ATAC to allocate. Depending on the outcome of the Large and long-term Program process, up to 20% of the time on each telescope may be top-sliced for LPs. 80% of the remainder will be filled at ITAC, with the remaining 20% available for Poor Weather programs. If one telescope is far more oversubscribed than the other, we may arrange a swap of nights with another partner country with an opposite imbalance so as to even out demand, or switch programs with equatorial targets to a different telescope.
ATAC encourages applications which can tolerate a wide range of observing conditions on Gemini. Note that by being able to relax their observing condition constraints, and avoiding the most sought-after right ascensions, ATAC programs in Band 3 have achieved a better-than-average completion rate. ATAC also welcomes more ambitious Gemini proposals seeking substantial fractions of Australian time, and particularly those programs seeking time jointly with other Gemini partners. Applicants are strongly encouraged to ask for a fraction of time in a multi-partner (Joint) proposal proportional to their intellectual involvement in the project, rather than divided up in proportion to the partner share of the proposers from different countries.
Poor weather and Director's Discretionary Time proposals may be submited at any time via the 2014A version of the Phase I Tool. Such proposals are submitted directly to the Gemini Observatory and assessed by the Head of Science Operations at each Gemini telescope, so there is no need to worry about proposal deadlines (or getting the proposal past ATAC). Proposals submitted for regular queue time but not ranked highly enough by ATAC to be allocated time in Bands 1-3 may be also be assigned to the Poor Weather Queue by ATAC if they can still make use of such conditions.
In certain situations, observing in "classical" mode where the PI is assigned specific nights on one of the Gemini telescopes and travels to the telescope to carry out these observations, may be called for. As classical time is top-sliced from a partner's allocation with a consequent reduction in the size of queue Bands 1-3, and there is the usual risk that the necessary observing conditions may not be met on the allocated night(s), the case for a classical versus a queue allocation needs to be a strong one. Nevertheless ATAC has assigned classical nights on Gemini in past semesters and welcomes all such proposals. In the event that Australian-based observers are allocated classical nights by ATAC on either Gemini North or Gemini South, AusGO will reimburse the observer(s) for associated costs on a similar basis to the policies for scheduled Magellan observers.remote eavesdropping as their programs are being executed. PIs will be invited by the Gemini queue observer to connect via Skype and assist with complex acquisitions, monitor the quality of the incoming data, etc. and gain a better understanding of the Gemini observing process. Note that an observing night at Gemini South corresponds quite closely with working hours in Australia, and at Gemini North the night is generally over by 2am in the eastern states, so eavesdropping is relatively convenient for Australian users. Eligible PIs will be invited to indicate their availability for remote eavesdropping in the e-mail from Gemini advising them of their Phase 2 details.
The Gemini Phase I Proposal Tool (PIT) is a Java program which must be installed on the applicant's own computer (Mac OS-X, Linux, or Windows). A new version is available for the 2014B round, and must be used. It can be downloaded from PIT Installation. You will also require the default LaTeX style file and template, or Word template for 2014B to create the scientific and technical justifications, as well as the ancillary information. These can also be downloaded from within the PIT itself. Do not attempt to change the font size, margins, etc. in the style file or template. Both the style file and the template have been updated for 2014B, so applicants should fetch and use these new versions. Proposals which use the 2014A or earlier style will not be accepted.
ATAC applicants should use the "Gemini default" style file and LaTeX/Word templates. The scientific case, experimental design, and technical case sections each have a maximum length of one page of text, while the figures, captions, references, and tables may use up to two additional pages. Appended output from the ITCs does not count towards these totals. In the "Experimental Design" section the PI should address how these observations contribute toward the accomplishment of the goals outlined in the science justification; information on the targets/sample size; data analysis; additional calibrations, etc. PIs are strongly encouraged to include the output from the instrument time calculators in the proposal. Save or convert this document into PDF format, then attach it to the proposal submission by clicking on the paper clip icon next to the "PDF attachment goes here" line in the Overview tab of the PIT.
If time is being requested on both Gemini North and Gemini South instruments for the one scientific program, then you only need to submit one proposal, and state explicitly in the Technical Description the split of time between telescopes being sought. Similarly, joint proposals should make clear in the Band 3 section of the attachment the share of time between partners if the Band 3 total time differs from that required in Bands 1 or 2.
Gemini has provided a comprehensive set of help pages and also video tutorials to help get you started. Please study these first, and if you need further assistance or clarification then submit a Helpdesk request.
See the Supporting Information web page for further details about:
- Joint Proposals
- Target-of-Opportunity (ToO) proposals
- Time Allocation process
- Submissions to use multiple telescopes
- Rollover of Band 1 programs
- GMOS Mask Pre-imaging
- Poor Weather programs
- Exchange Time arrangements with Subaru
The electronic submission process built into the PIT for Australian proposals will send the proposal XML file and PDF attachment to the Australian Gemini Office at the Australian Astronomical Observatory, which is the service organization for ATAC. The PIT will flag any issues or missing elements of a proposal in the "Problems" section. Only when these are rectified will the PIT enable you to submit the proposal from the Submit tab. Pressing "Submit this Proposal" will attempt to upload your proposal and PDF attachment to the AAO. If successful this will be reported in the Submit tab (not in a separate pop-up window), along with a proposal reference number and contact e-mail in case you have any further queries. You will not receive any acknowledgement e-mail. If you do not see a reference number but the PIT Submit tab shows the proposal status as "Successfully Submitted", please send an e-mail to ausgo -@- aao.gov.au - do not try to re-submit the proposal. The PIT will not allow you to submit the same proposal twice; you will have to "Open an Editable Copy" if you wish to re-use a proposal from a previous semester.
All requests for assistance and information regarding new proposals, the available instruments, the PIT, etc, should be handled through the Gemini HelpDesk. This Web-based system will forward the query initially to AusGO staff, who may then escalate it to other National Gemini Office staff, or Gemini Observatory staff, as required.
- Due to the very high demand for a limited number of exchange nights on Subaru, ATAC applicants are strongly encouraged to consider submitting Joint proposals with other Gemini partners in order to improve their chances of getting exchange time.
- ATAC proposals have to be read and assessed against a cohort of proposals extending across all of astronomy. ATAC members therefore have a wide range of backgrounds and expertise spanning all areas of astronomy. However, not all committee members may be experts in your area, and familiar with all its acronyms and jargon. Even when all acronyms are defined as they are used, the excessive use of acronyms can quickly exhaust the mental stack of even the most careful and committed reader. Proposals that assume all readers have an intimate knowledge of all the acronyms and jargon used across all of astronomy, and/or an infinite capacity for remembering new acronyms, may therefore put themselves at an unnecessary disadvantage when it comes to being easily read and understood by ATAC members.
- Applicants are advised to clearly state (in your technical justification) a realistic minimum total time required for their project to be viable. Please note that there is no penalty involved in quoting a minimum time less than the requested time, as ATAC does not normally allocate less than the requested time unless queue filling precludes this. Indeed, allocations in Band 3 will sometimes be for larger amounts of time than originally sought, to partly compensate for the poorer observing conditions under which such programs will need to be executed. Such a statement could help you in two circumstances:
- Firstly, if your proposal is ranked near the cut-off, there may not be enough Australian time left to give you your full allocation. Your statement will help ATAC decide whether it is scientifically useful to give you less than your requested time, or whether the time should be given to another smaller proposal. Several proposals that set "minimum time = requested time" have in the past been unsuccessful for exactly this reason.
- Secondly, if your proposal asks for time from several partner countries, and Australia ranks it highly but other partners rank it poorly, it will help ATAC decide whether it is worth giving you just the Australian time, or whether this is scientifically useless by itself.
Australian Gemini Office, ausgo -@- aao.gov.au