Call for Proposals on the Gemini and Subaru Telescopes

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Australian Access to the Gemini and Subaru Telescopes

The deadline for Gemini proposals in Semester 2015B has now passed. We will begin accepting proposals for Semester 2016A in early September 2015.

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.

Poor weather and Director's Discretionary Time proposals may be submitted at any time. However submitting these proposal types requires the use of the 2015A version of the Phase I Tool - attempts to submit new queue proposals for 2015B using this older PIT version will not work. Such proposals are submitted directly to the Gemini Observatory for their consideration, and any time awarded is not charged to Australia's share of Gemini time.

This page contains a summary of the Gemini call for proposals, together with some hints on how to maximise your chances of getting data. It should be read in conjunction with the Gemini Observatory Call for Proposals web page, which gives more details on the operational modes available, as well as the Overview of the Gemini proposal submission process web page.

See the ATAC Policies and Procedures document for information about how Australian Gemini time is allocated. To stay abreast of developments at Gemini, you can subscribe to the Gemini e-newscast.

What's new in 2015B?

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 2015B there are additional constraints on all LGS programs at Gemini North and Gemini South; on the DSSI visitor instrument; and on GPI.

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.

Gemini North

The instruments available on Gemini North are:

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 due to flexure, frequent reacquisition with the LGS+PWFS1 mode may be necessary.

Gemini South

The instruments available on Gemini South are:


Depending on demand from the Japanese community for Gemini time in 2015B, it is hoped that up to 5 classical nights on Subaru will be 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:

Note that exchange time on Subaru is "classical" observing time - someone will need to go to the telescope to carry out the observations. ITSO and AAL have secured funding 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.

Available Time

A total of 69 hours of time on Gemini North, and 59 hours on Gemini South are nominally available for ATAC to allocate. This is less than recent semesters due to the time committed by Australia to the current Large and long-term Programs. Up to 80% of this time 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 2015A 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.

Classical Observing with Gemini

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, ITSO will reimburse the observer(s) for associated costs on a similar basis to the policies for scheduled Magellan observers.

Remote Eavesdropping with Gemini

Gemini offers PIs of Band 1 and 2 queue programs (with the exception of GeMS+GSAOI) the opportunity to participate via 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.

Submitting a Proposal

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 2015B 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 2015B 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.

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:

The electronic submission process built into the PIT for Australian proposals will send the proposal XML file and PDF attachment to the International Telescopes Support 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, and any joint partner. 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 -@- - 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.

Need Help?

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 ITSO staff, who may then escalate it to other National Gemini Office staff, or Gemini Observatory staff, as required.

Some hints on maximising your chances of getting time (and data!)

International Telescopes Support Office, ausgo -@-