The deadline for Gemini proposals in Semester 2013B has now passed. We will begin accepting proposals for Semester 2014A in early Sep 2013.
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 2013B?
- Two new visitor instruments are being offered to the community on Gemini
North in 2013B:
- the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI), a dual-channel visual-wavelength camera giving simultaneous diffraction-limited images in two filters over a 2.8-5.6 arcsecond field of view.
- the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES), a high resolution (R ~4,000-100,000) mid-infrared (5-25 micron) spectrometer.
- The FLAMINGOS-2 near-infrared imager and spectrograph is being offered on a shared-risk basis in imaging and long-slit modes only. MOS mode is not offered at this time. Targets with RA 23h to 6h are particularly encouraged to cover a period when GMOS South may not be available. The current delivered image quality with FLAMINGOS-2 in the lab is equivalent to IQ20 conditions within the inner ~1 arcmin or so, and to IQ70 conditions within a 4-5 arcmin field. Further improvement is expected before the instrument returns to the telescope for re-commissioning in April 2013. Please check the FLAMINGOS-2 Status and Availability page for the latest information.
- The RSAA-built Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI) on the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS) is being offered for up to 150 hrs (twice as much time as in 2013A) from September 2013 onwards, limiting RAs to 19h - 11h and declination to -75 to +15 degrees. Observations in IQ85 are possible and are encouraged for semester 2013B, 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.
- During 2013B Gemini Director's Discretionary Time will be allocated to use GSAOI to obtain non-proprietary data on two galaxy clusters that are part of the Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields program. Investigators who require deeper or different observations of these fields are welcome to submit such proposals.
- GMOS-South will likely not be available between October and November 2013, for an upgrade to the CCDs and other maintenance work. The amount of time at RA 23h to 6h will therefore be limited, and investigators should state in the technical case of their proposal if alternate targets are available. Investigators should assume the performance of the current EEV detectors for planning purposes.
- Following successful trials last semester, Gemini has begun offering PIs of queue programs 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. PIs interested in taking advantage of remote eavesdropping should indicate this in their Technical Case.
- There will be a guaranteed minimum of 5 nights on the Subaru telescope available to the Gemini community, following aluminising at the start of the semester.
- NICI will not be offered in 2013B as commissioning of the successor Gemini Planet Imager gets underway.
- ATAC applicants must now prepare their scientific and technical justification using either the Gemini default LaTeX style file (GemPhase1_13B.sty) and proposal template (GemPhase1.tex), or Gemini default Word template (GemPhase1.doc) as used by all partners except the US, then upload this as a PDF attachment using the PIT. There is a limit of one page of text for the scientific justification; up to 2 more pages of figures, tables, and references; and one page for the technical justification. Note that it is possible to submit a single proposal seeking time on both Gemini North and Gemini South. Gemini has prepared extensive help pages as well as a series of video tutorials. We encourage you to follow these and begin preparing your proposals well in advance of the deadline.
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 2013B there are additional constraints on all LGS programs at Gemini North and Gemini South, and for programs requiring unrestricted access (e.g. MOS programs that require pre-imaging, long observations, and multi-epoch observations).
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. Note that the planned upgrade to even more red-sensitive Hamamatsu CCDs has been deferred until mid-2014 due to limited staff resources.
- the GNIRS 1-5 micron long-slit spectrograph is available in all modes, including with the newly-replaced short red camera, from mid-August so targets must have 18h < RA < 13.5h. Imaging with GNIRS is also 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 110 hours are available during July and August bright time, limiting RAs to 15.5h to 3h.
- the visiting TEXES high resolution (R ~4,000-100,000) mid-infrared (5-25 micron) spectrometer. Up to 110 hours are available during October bright time, limiting RAs to 20h to 7.5h.
The instruments available on Gemini South are:
- the GMOS optical imager, multi-object, and integral field spectrograph will be unavailable for up to 2 months in Sep/Oct 2013, when the upgrade to much more red-sensitive Hamamatsu CCDs is scheduled to occur. The amount of time at RA 23h to 6h will therefore be limited.
- The FLAMINGOS-2 near-infrared imager and spectrograph will be offered in shared-risk mode for imaging and long-slit spectroscopy only throughout 2013B. Targets with RA 23h to 6h, requiring seeing no better than IQ85 (0.6-0.85") are particularly encouraged to cover the period when GMOS South may not be available.
- The Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system GeMS, and the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager, which together deliver diffraction-limited images over a 85" field of view. Targets are restricted to RA 19h to 11h and Dec -75d to +15d, and applicants should check the availability of suitable 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.
A minimum of 5, and possibly up to 10 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 telescope will be unavailable until around September 20 2013, due to mirror recoating.
The instruments and their availability on Subaru are:
- FMOS, a near-infrared fiber-fed multi-object spectrograph, offered in shared-risk for both high- and low-resolution mode with IRS1 and IRS2.
- COMICS, a mid-infrared camera and spectrograph.
- FOCAS, an optical imager and spectrograph with longslit, multi-slit, polarimetry, and spectropolarimetry modes. The Cassegrain Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector is expected to be available in shared-risk mode.
- 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. The number of MOS masks must be specified in the proposal. Note that access to MOIRCS during 2014 will be very limited due to planned upgrades.
- Suprime-Cam, a prime-focus optical wide-field imager. The required filters must be explicitly stated in the proposal.
Note that exchange time on Subaru is "classical" observing time - someone will need to go to the telescope to carry out the observations. The AAO 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.
For semester 2013B there will no Gemini-Keck telescope time exchange offered. Gemini and Keck are in negotiations to offer an expanded suite of Keck instruments in any new agreement.
A total of 98 hours of time on Gemini North, and 88 hours on Gemini South are nominally available for ATAC to allocate. Note that only 80% of the total queue time will be filled at ITAC, with the remainder (which used to be allocated to Band 3 programs using the poorest conditions) now used for the Poor Weather queue. The amount of science time on Gemini South is constrained by the significant amount of time required to begin commissioning of GPI. 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.
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 would also welcome more ambitious Gemini proposals seeking substantial fractions of Australian time, as well as large programs seeking time jointly with other Gemini partners.
Poor weather and Director's Discretionary Time proposals may be submited at any time via the 2013A version of the Phase I Tool. 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.
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 on either Gemini North or Gemini South, the AAO will reimburse the observer(s) for associated costs on a similar basis to the policies for scheduled Magellan observers.
Submitting a Proposal
The Gemini Phase I Proposal Tool (PIT) is a Java program which must be installed on the applicant's own computer (Solaris, Mac OS-X, Linux, or Windows). A completely new version is available for the 2013B 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 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.
In order to standardise proposal formats as much as possible across the Gemini partnership, and not unfairly penalise Joint Proposals, ATAC applicants must now use the "Gemini default" style file and LaTeX/Word templates. The scientific and technical cases now have a maximum length of one page of text each, while the figures, captions, references, and tables may use up to two additional pages. As the scientific case itself is now limited to one page maximum, ATAC recommends that details of sample selection, data analysis, etc. which were commonly included in this section be shifted to the Technical Justification section instead. 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.
Gemini has provided a comprehensive set of help pages and even video tutorials to help get you started. Please study these first, and if you need further assistance or clarification then please 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 Keck and Subaru
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.
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.
If time is being requested on both Gemini North and Gemini South for the one scientific program, then you only need to submit one proposal.
Poor weather proposals can be submitted at any time using the 2013A version of the Phase I Tool. These are submitted directly to Gemini 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.
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. 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. This too is a not infrequent occurrence.
Australian Gemini Office, ausgo -@- aao.gov.au