The Gemini Observatory has announced the 2015B
Call for Proposals for use of the Gemini North and Gemini South Telescopes,
as well as exchange time access (in classical mode only) to
all facility and visitor
instruments on Subaru.
Australian proposals for Gemini or Subaru time must be submitted
electronically, via use of the 2015B version of the Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT), to
the Australian Time Allocation Committee (ATAC) by:
5:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday 31 March 2015
unless the PI is from an institution in another partner country, in which
case the deadline of that country applies.
Note that Daylight Saving time is in effect in all states except WA,
QLD, and the Northern Territory until 5 April 2015. However the
proposal deadline is always Australian Eastern Standard Time.
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
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
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?
- Semester 2015B marks the final semester in which Australia will
be a full partner in Gemini. For this semester Australian-led and
joint proposals involving Australia will be assessed and scheduled
in the usual way, but will not be executed after Australia's
membership in Gemini formally ends on 31 December 2015. Thus programs
which can only be executed in January 2016 will not be accepted,
and Australian Band 1 programs will not be eligible for rollover
into later semesters.
- Notwithstanding the end of Australia's full partnership in
Gemini, Astronomy Australia Ltd and the AAO have secured a
limited-term partnership for 2016, providing a total of 7 classical
nights over Semesters 2016A and 2016B split between Gemini North and
Gemini South. Details of how this time will be made available to the
Australian community will be announced prior to the Semester 2016A
Call for Proposals.
- The Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (GRACES)
facility is now available. GRACES combines the large collecting area
of the Gemini North telescope with the high resolving power and high
efficiency of the ESPaDOnS spectrograph at CFHT via a 270m-long
optical fibre, to deliver high-resolution (R~67,500) optical
spectroscopy between 400 and 1000 nm with a sensitivity comparable to,
or better than HIRES on Keck. GRACES observations will be carried out
in a number of observing blocks coordinated with CFHT.
- Pending successful commissioning in Semester 2015A the
Non Redundant Mask mode is available for use on the
Gemini Planet Imager.
- It is anticipated that the On-Instrument Wavefront Sensor (OIWFS)
will become the default guiding mode for FLAMINGOS-2
from 2015B. This will reduce both the impact of flexure on long
spectroscopic exposures, as well as potential vignetting in imaging
from the use of PWFS2. Pending
successful installation in Semester 2015A, an extended K-band filter
will be offered in Semester 2015B.
- New Hamamatsu
CCDs offering improved and extended sensitivity out to 1 micron are now in
regular use in GMOS-South,
Applicants for 2015B should be sure to select "CCD
Type = Hamamatsu array" in the GMOS-South
Integration Time Calculator in planning their proposals. Pending
the delivery of CCDs and new video boards, a similar CCD array may be
installed in GMOS-North at some point in Semester 2015B; however applicants
should assume only the current e2v Deep Depletion CCDs
will be available for science in Semester 2015B.
- Student and early-career researchers involved in classical or
queue programs are eligible to apply for Gemini's "Bring
One, Get One" travel subsidy program, when accompanying a senior
- The DSSI speckle imaging camera is being offered as a visitor instrument
on Gemini North in December 2015.
- Up to 5 nights on the Subaru telescope will be available to the
Gemini community, including shared risks use of the Hyper
Suprime-Cam (HSC) very wide field optical to far-red imager, and 3
visitor instruments (HiCIAO,
and SCExAO) by
arrangement with the instrument PI.
- Due to the end of Australia's full partnership in Gemini, new
Australian-led proposals for Large & long-term
Programs (LPs) cannot be submitted. Similarly Australia is not
eligible to participate in the new Fast
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.
The instruments available on Gemini North are:
a fibre feed from the Gemini North telescope to the ESPaDOnS spectrograph
at CFHT, offering high-resolution (R~67,500) optical spectroscopy
between 400 and 1000 nm.
- the GMOS
optical imager, multi-object, and integral field
spectrograph. Although new Hamamatsu CCDs may be installed in
GMOS-North at some point in Semester 2015B, applicants should assume
only the current e2v
Deep Depletion CCDs will be available.
- the NIFS
near-infrared (0.95-2.4 micron) integral field unit spectrograph.
- the GNIRS 1-5
micron long-slit spectrograph is available in all modes, except with
the short red camera.
YJHK imaging is available via the acquisition keyhole.
- the NIRI near-infrared (1-5 micron) imager. Due to planned major refurbishment
NIRI may not be available in Semester 2016A.
- 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 Dec 2015,
limiting RAs to 23h to 13h.
GNIRS, NIRI, and NIFS can be used in conjunction with the ALTAIR
adaptive optics system, using natural
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.
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
The instruments and their availability on Subaru are:
Suprime-Cam, the very wide field (1.5 degree field of view)
optical to far-red imager is available in shared-risk mode. Three
narrow-band filters centred on 515nm, 816nm, and 921nm are available
arrangement with the filter developers. Please check the likely
filter availability before applying.
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.
an optical imager and spectrograph with longslit, multi-slit, polarimetry,
and spectropolarimetry modes.
an optical high dispersion spectrograph with a resolution up to
R=165,000 via the use of image
- IRCS, a
near-infrared camera with coronagraphic and natural/laser guide star
adaptive optics modes, linear polarimetry, 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 from May 2015 until early in 2015B
for the detector upgrade.
a prime-focus optical wide-field imager will be available in Sep and Dec 2015
- 3 additional visitor instruments are also being offered in
limited blocks during 2015B, 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.
- 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. 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.
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
condition constraints, and avoiding
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.
weather and Director's
Discretionary Time proposals may be submited at any time via the
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
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
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
Installation. You will also require the
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
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 -@- 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 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!)
- 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
- 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:
Applicants are also required to state clearly what you would do if your
proposal was awarded time in Band 3. There is a special tab in the
PIT to do this. Note that filling in this tab in no way reduces your chances
of being ranked in Band 1 or 2; leaving it blank however can severely
limit your chances of getting into any band. Proposals in Band 3 are very
unlikely to be carried
out if they require the best (and most requested) weather conditions.
If your program is ranked in the highest bands, this will make no
difference. But if it is ranked in Band 3, we will ask you (if
necessary) to think about shortening it, downgrading the weather
constraints, picking brighter targets or a wider range of potential
targets, and otherwise increasing the chance that it will actually get
done. If ATAC does not feel that these changes can be made in a way that
preserves at least some useful science, your proposal may be dropped
from the list and replaced by one with a lower scientific ranking, but
more chance of being executed in Band 3. Gemini also offer several
suggestions for making the most of Band 3 time.
Having a range of targets at different RAs and Decs can help your
chance of being executed in the Gemini queue. List as many targets as
you like, but insert a note explaining how many you actually are
requesting time to observe. Where possible, try to avoid the
Due to the requirement that all Laser Guide Star targets receive
clearance in advance from US Space Command, it is recommended that all
such programs be split into blocks of no more than ~1.5 hrs each in
order to be schedulable. Also, the need for Laser Guide Stars when
observing calibration targets should be weighed up against the risk of
not being able to schedule the calibration observations alongside the
science target observations.
Getting your Phase II program completed early (for targets
observable early in the semester) can do wonders for the chances of
your program being executed. In some cases, programs allocated time
in the next semester have been executed before the current semester
has even finished!
- 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
International Telescopes Support Office, ausgo -@- aao.gov.au