NOAO Call for Proposals: Semester 2020A

Call for Standard Proposals: Semester 2020A  

This document covers the observing time period from 1 February 2020 – 31 July 2020.

Proposal Deadline: 30 September 2019 at 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time. This document is also available as a downloadable PDF file attached at the end of this document.

1. General Information on NOAO Observing Proposals

Proposals for standard observing programs at all ground-based facilities coordinated by NOAO, which include US time on the telescopes of Gemini, CTIO, and KPNO, as well as community-access time with private observatories, can be submitted twice per year. For the 2020A semester, the deadline is:

Standard Programs: 30 September 2019 at 11:59pm MST (=Tucson time) deadline for the 1 February 2020 – 31 July 2020 observing period (2020A)
This Call is for Standard Observing propsoals only, but below we give a short description of the different NOAO proposal types.
Standard Programs are traditional proposals for observing time allocated on a semester basis. Standard proposals generally request modest amounts of time, although requests for long runs are also considered. Standard programs are judged by one of eight TAC panels, each with five members plus a non-voting Chair. The Chairs present the proposal rankings made by the panel members at the meeting where the proposals are merged into a single ranked list.
Long Term Status for Standard Programs are for scientific programs that, by their design, need to extend beyond a single semester. Long-term status may be granted to a proposal for which the principal science goal of the proposal cannot be achieved without the full allocation of time. An investigator who wishes to request long-term status should include a summary of the request (e.g., "six nights per semester for four semesters") in the appropriate section of the proposal form.
If long-term status is granted, a progress report must be submitted each subsequent semester to inform the TAC that appropriate progress is being made. Progress reports should briefly summarize the scientific justification, provide a detailed discussion of progress to date, restate the number of observing runs still needed to complete the project, and give details needed for scheduling the proposal in the next semester.
Although the granting of long-term status by the TAC does carry with it a commitment for observing time in future semesters, NOAO reserves the right to terminate long-term status on the advice of the TAC if insufficient information concerning the progress of the project has been supplied by the Principal Investigator or in the event of telescope closures.
NOAO Survey Programs have been carried out in the past using the telescopes at KPNO and CTIO. Up to 20% of the observing time available through NOAO-opersated telescopes may be allocated to Survey Programs. 
Survey programs are judged by a dedicated Survey TAC panel, which uses a wider range of criteria than does the regular TAC. The scientific bar for acceptance of Survey programs is thus considerably higher than for Standard proposals.
Gemini Large or Long Programs (LP) are those that require either significantly more time than a partner typically approves for a single program, or extend over 2 to 6 semesters, or both. The participating partners (US and Canada) will make up to 20% of their time at each telescope available for LPs. Gemini LPs are judged by a dedicated LP TAC, with representatives from the participating partners. Further information on LPs and the LP proposal process can be found at
Who can apply? Applications for telescope time at NOAO facilities are welcome from all astronomers and students. Applications from astronomers and students who are affiliated with non-US institutions should indicate why the project cannot be done using other facilities that might be available to the investigators and why US national facilities are needed. Proposals from graduate students who are conducting observations as part of their Ph.D. thesis work will have their travel and on-site expenses paid for by NOAO. Please select "Graduate student, and THIS proposal is part of thesis" ONLY if the requested observations are essential for the Graduate Thesis. For all other cases, please simply select "Graduate Student" (e.g. if the student is in fact working toward a thesis, but this proposal is not essential to that effort). Thesis Advisors should be aware that a Thesis Student Information Form should be completed and submitted within two business days after the proposal deadline. This form is required for the student to be considered for NOAO travel support. Lacking the Advisor's submission by the deadline, the proposal will be considered as any other non-thesis proposal, and travel support will not be granted.
Criteria for the evaluation of telescope proposals to NOAO facilities will be based on scientific merit. The criteria for evaluating scientific merit of proposals for time on NOAO facilities are:
  • The relevance and importance of the proposal within the area of specialization.
  • The relevance and importance of the proposal in the larger context of astronomical research.
  • The suitability of the experimental design to achieve the scientific goals (including sample size, required S/N, approach to deal with difficult data reduction problems, etc.).
  • The significance of the proposed observations for the completion of the project.
  • The likelihood that the researchers will complete the project and publish their results and the adequacy of the resources available to them in order to do this.
  • The broader impacts of the proposed research, for example, in education and public awareness of science.
In addition, the value of the proposed research to the educational and career development of the investigators may be considered in exceptional circumstances.
For CTIO proposals, preference may be given to proposals which can only be carried out in the southern hemisphere.
NOAO is committed to maximizing the accessibility of astronomy to all qualified proposers. Many of the telescopes available through NOAO support remote observing, and we are happy to discuss ways in which this mode can be employed to address specific issues of accessibility. To enquire about remote observing and other forms of access, and to request specific accommodation, please contact any of the following individuals:

2. Instructions for Submitting Semester 2020A Proposals

The 2020A Call for Proposals covers proposals for observing programs at all ground-based facilities on which NOAO manages open-access observing time. Observing proposals for all telescopes, other than Gemini, must be submitted using the NOAO Proposal Form, which is found at
The NOAO proposal can either be prepared and submitted completely online or a LaTeX template can be completed locally and submitted via a web upload.

Gemini Proposal Investigators who are applying for time on the Gemini telescopes must use Gemini Observatory's Phase I Tool (PIT) to prepare their observing proposals. The PIT is available from the Gemini Observatory at:

Classical observers using US time on the Gemini telescopes should be prepared to fund their own travel for their observing trips. NOAO encourages classical observing for the benefits that the on-site experience provides, and will attempt to fund, at least in part, the cost of travel for one Gemini classical observer per run. However, because of tight funding constraints, NOAO cannot guarantee such support. NOAO will continue to support graduate students traveling to Gemini for observations that are part of their PhD thesis work.
AAT Proposals: The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and NOAO/CTIO are continuing a time exchange arrangement, to allow our respective communities to maximize the scientific facilities and opportunities to which we have access. In 2020A, five classically-scheduled nights on the Anglo-Australian Telescope will be available to the NOAO community. All AAT facility instruments are available.
An additonal 5 nights are available to the community through NN-EXPLORE (see Section 3.1) on the precision radial-velocity spectrograph, Veloce, for exoplanet research.
Proposals for this time should be submitted through the NOAO proposal form. The proposals will be reviewed by the NOAO TAC, and the successful proposals submitted to the AAO for scheduling. Note also that proposals for AAT time through the regular AAT open call, submitted by the AAO deadline of 15 September 2019 at 17:00 (AEDT) using the AAO form, are also encouraged by the AAO. These will be assessed only by the Australian Time Assignment Committee.

3. News and Updates for Semester 2020A

The following updatess to instrumentation at all facilities available through NOAO are noted here to alert investigators preparing proposals.

3.1 NN-EXPLORE in 2020A: NEID on WIYN, the CTIO 1.5m with CHIRON, and AAT+Veloce Time

New: The NASA/NSF Exoplanet Exploration Program (NN-EXPLORE) is seeking proposals to use NEID, a new cutting edge high-precision spectrograph at WIYN designed for radial velocity measurements of exoplanet host stars. NEID is designed with a goal of achieving 27 cm/s precision per data point, providing the US exoplanet community with high-precision radial velocity measurements appropriate for studying Earth and super-Earth mass planets orbiting bright host stars over a wide range of spectral type. Other investigations that hinge on extreme RV precision can also make good use of NEID.  NEID is scheduled to begin commissioning at WIYN in November 2019.  Proposers can request NEID in "shared risk" mode for programs that can be executed in 2020A.  For more information on NEID, see .
New: Five nights in 2020A are available on the AAT 3.9m telescope with the precision radial-velocity spectrometer Veloce as part of NN-EXPLORE.
The other opportunities for NN-EXPLORE continue: WIYN with its full instrument complement, along with 400 hours (the equivalent of 40 nights) on the CTIO/SMARTS 1.5m with the precision radial-velocity spectrometer CHIRON.
For more details about NN-EXPLORE, see

3.2 Gemini North and South

The Gemini Observatory has released a Call for Proposals for 2020A at:

The Gemini Call contains all of the information necessary to submit a Gemini proposal.  It is usggested that you read the Gemini CfP if youare requesting Gemini time.

Proposers requesting Gemini time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT):


The Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT) will automatically add the time for the baseline partner calibrations to the total time requested for each target in the proposal.

Gemini-Subaru Exchange

Gemini and Subaru are continuing their time-exchange program. A desired minimum of five classically-scheduled nights will be available to the Gemini community, providing that there is sufficient demand from both sides of the exchange. Please see the Gemini call for proposals for more information. Proposers requesting Subaru time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT).

3.3 Zwicky Transient Facility and shared-risk ANTARES event brokering

The NSF MSIP-funded Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) is currently issuing public transient alerts. The two ZTF public surveys ( are (1) an all-sky survey with a three-night cadence and (2) a Galactic-plane survey with a nightly cadence. Both these surveys are expected to reach approximate point-source depths of r = 20.4 and g = 21.0. Further information can be found through the  ZTF project website (
For 2020A, NOAO encourages submission of proposals for “target-of-opportunity” (ToO) follow-up observing triggered by ZTF alerts. Proposals should plan to use the current ToO policies and mechanisms for the facilities allocated through the NOAO TAC. More information about current ToO policies and procedures at available open-access facilities can be found here:
Gemini Target of Opportunity observing:
CTIO Target of Opportunity observing:
SOAR Target of Opportunity observing
Las Cumbres Observatory scheduling (including ToO)
NOAO is currently filtering ZTF alerts through the ANTARES event
 broker system ( For 2020A, ANTARES
 capabilities include positional and/or catalog-based filters with
 associated delta-magnitude thresholds, as well as more complex
 filters.  Proposers interested in employing these ANTARES
 capabilities within their programs during 2020A are encouraged to
 contact Dr. Tom Matheson ( in advance of the
 proposal deadline. Support for ANTARES science verification programs
 will be subject to availability of resources; depending on demand
 during this initial call, it is possible that only a subset of
 programs will be chosen for use with ANTARES.

3.4 KPNO

Mayall 4-m

The Mayall 4-m telescope is currently in the midst of commissioning the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). No time will be available through the NOAO TAC.


As in previous semesters, priority at the WIYN-3.5m in 2020A will be given to qualifying proposals under the NN-EXPLORE program. More information on the NASA Guest Observer program can be found at   Commissioning of the new high-precision spectrometer, NEID, is expected to take place in 2019B.  Proposers can request NEID in "shared risk" mode for programs that can be executed late in 2020A.  For detailed information about how to propose for NEID please see .


Other instruments offered at WIYN include the upgraded ODI, with a 48'x40' focal plane. Other facility instruments on offer are HYDRA, the IFUs (SparsePak, HexPak, and GradPak), WHIRC (with or without WTTM), and the queue-operated speckle imager NESSI. Observers wishing to use Hexpak or Gradpak in 2019B should contact the PI (Matthew Bershady) at before submitting a proposal to use these IFUs.


Note to ODI proposers: the smaller Mosaic filters are no longer be available with ODI due to the full complement of permanently mounted, large ODI filters.  These include u’,g’,r’,i’,z’ and four narrowband filters (NB422, NB695, NB746 and H-alpha).


All WIYN proposers, please review the Proposal Information page ( to ensure all the required information is submitted on your proposal.


Remote Observing: KPNO offers remote observing for selected programs on WIYN in 2019B. If you are interested in this opportunity, please see the requirements for observing remotely at If you are requesting remote observing, please make a note of this in the "Scheduling constraints and non-usable dates" section that appears at the bottom of the first page of the NOAO proposal form and include any additional details in the "Technical Description" text of your observing run.


3.5 CTIO

Blanco 4-m

Instruments avasilable: In 2020A, CTIO will be offering the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) and the Cerro Tololo Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph (COSMOS).

Nights available in 2020A for new regular programs: Approximately 90.


The SOAR website is located at:

Several special opportunities are available for SOAR in 2020A - interested parties whoo need more information should contact support staff.

TSpec availability: The TripleSpec instrument (ex-ARCOIRIS, re-baptized TripleSpec 4.1) was commissioned in 2019. People interested in proposing can do so using performance information from the Blanco telescope ( until the SOAR web pages are fully updated.  Contact Sean Points for further information.

All other instruments that were available in the previous semester are currently available: see the Facilities Table in Section 4.1 below.

Queue scheduling opportunity:  Starting in 2019B, SOAR has been operating a fraction of its nights in queue mode.  For 2019B, we are only supporting observations with the Goodman spectrograph, red camera, and 400 l/mm and 2100 l/mm gratings, in specific configurations.  For 2020A we will offer additional configurations, based in part on user demand.  We expect these to include the blue camera and one or two of the intermediate-resolution gratings.  If your proposed configuration will not be supported, but your program is feasible as a classical program, it will be considered accordingly.
Since the queue nights are rather sparsely scheduled (cadence of a night every 7 to 15 days, depending on demand), programs that require a higher cadence cannot be currently supported.
For further details, including how to express interest in participation, please see the SOAR web pages or contact Cesar Briceno.


Time on the small telescopes at CTIO will be available to NOAO users in 2020A via the usual proposal process. The telescopes are operated by the SMARTS consortium with up to 15% of time available to the NOAO community.
Note that time on the 1.3m is not avaialble in 2020A.
The SMARTS web site is
The 0.9m + CFCCD is available in user mode only. It is being operated on a part time basis (operating on up to 60% of nights), during the 2020A semester. As a result up to 24 nights will be available for allocation by the NOAO TAC  For more information on the 0.9m, please contact Dr. Todd Henry at
Non-sidereal tracking is no longer supported as service or queue observing. The only option for non-sidereal is user time on the 0.9m.
The 1.5m + CHIRON (fiber-fed cross-dispersed echelle).  400 hours is available for the NN-EXPLORE program, and  270 hours will be available for scheduling by the NOAO TAC for non-NN-EXPLORE programs. For more information on the 1.5m, please contact Dr. Todd Henry at

4. General Information about Facilities Available through NOAO

4.1 Facilities List

Facility Telescope

Approximate nights available for new standard 2020A programs

Additional Information

8m Gemini North

8m Gemini South

8m Subaru (through time exchange)



CTIO 4m Blanco 90
SOAR 4.2m SOAR 35





NN-EXPLORE 400 hrs + 270 hrs for regular programs 



3.5m WIYN




6 x 1m aperture



Global telescope

network 1m and 2m

1200hrs, 220hrs
AAT 3.9m  5 (CTIO exchange) + 5 (NNEXPLORE)


4.2 Telescope and Instrument Lists (with Instrument Proposal Code and Web-link)


GMOS-N: Gemini Optical Imager, Multi-Object Spectrograph and IFU
GNIRS: Gemini Near Infra-Red Spectrograph 
GNIRS + Altair: Gemini Near Infra-Red Spectrograph with NGS, LGS, or LGS+PWFS1 AO systems (Altair)
NIFS: Near-IR IFU Spectrograph
NIFS + Altair: Near-IR IFU Spectrograph with NGS, LGS, or LGS+PWFS1 AO systems (Altair)
NIRI: Near-Infrared Imager
NIRI + Altair: Near-IR Imager with NGS, LGS, LGS+PWFS1 AO systems
'Alopeke: Speckle Camera (visiting instrument)
GRACES: Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (visiting instrument)
POLISH-2: High-precision optical polarimeter (visiting instrument)


FLAMINGOS-2: Near-Infrared Wide Field Imager and Spectrometer (imaging and longslit modes only)
GMOS-S: Gemini Optical Imager, Multi-Object Spectrograph and IFU
GPI: Gemini Planet Imager
GSAOI/GeMS: Gemini Adaptive Optics Imager with Multi-Conjugate AO System
Zorro: Speckle Camera (visiting Instrument)
IGRINS: High-Resolution Near-IR Cross-Dispersed Echelle Spectrometer (visiting instrument)


Subaru (Gemini Exchange time)

COMICS: Cooled Mid-IR Camera and Spectrometer
FOCAS: Faint Object Camera and Spectrograph
HDS: High Dispersion Spectrograph
HSC: Hyper Suprime-Cam Wide-Field Optical Imager
IRCS: IR Camera and Spectrograph
IRCS+AO188: IRCS + Natural and Laser Guide Star AO
MOIRCS: Multi-Object IR Camera and Spectrograph


Visiting Instruments on Subaru (Observing proposals using the visiting instruments must include the relevant instrument PIs as a Co-investigators)

CHARIS: Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph - provides high contrast images of exoplanets, disks, brown dwarfs with SCExAO+AO188.

SCExAO: Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics - delivers high contrast images of the innermost surrounding of bright sources to CHARIS. The VAMPIRES module in SCExAO is also available for science observations in 2019B.

IRD: Infrared high-dispersion, high resolution (up to 70,000) fiber-fed spectrometer. IRD provides high spectral resolution echelle spectroscopy and radial velocity measurements from 0.97 to 1.75 um simultaneously combined with AO188. IRD is available with NGS-AO only in shared-risk. IRD SSP started in 2019A – any IRD proposal must clarify how its scientific aim is different from SSP.


CTIO 4m Blanco

DECam: Wide-Field Optical Imager
COSMOS: CTIO Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph

AAT 3.9m

AAOmega + 2dF: Fiber-fed Optical Spectrograph (392 fibers)


AAOmega + KOALA: 1000-element Optical IFU


HERMES + 2dF: High Efficiency and Resolution Multi-Element Spectrograph (392 fibers)


Veloce: Stabilized High-Resolution (R~80000) Echelle Spectrograph



Goodman: Goodman Spectrograph
SOI: SOAR Optical Imager
TripleSpec4.1 (ex-ARCOIRIS): Cross-dispersed, single-object, longslit, IR imaging spectrograph
Spartan: Spartan IR Imager
SAM: SOAR Adaptive Module
HRCAM: High-Resolution Camera
SIFS: SOAR Integral Field Spectrograph


WIYN 3.5m

NEID: NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy, precision RV spectrograph
ODI: One Degree Imager (40' x 48' focal plane)
HYDRB: Hydra + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Blue camera
HYDRR: Hydra + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Red camera
SPSPKB: SparsePak Fiber Array + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Blue camera
SPSPKR: SparsePak Fiber Array + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Red camera
WHIRC: WIYN High Resolution IR Camera
NESSI: NASA Exoplanet Star (and) Speckle Imager


CLASSIC: IR (H or K) Imaging
CLIMB: IR (H or K) Imaging
MIRC: Low-resolution H-band Spectroscopy
PAVO: Low-resolution Optical Spectroscopy
VEGA: Medium-resolution and High-resolution Optical Spectroscopy


LCO-2m Global Network

Spectral: Optical Imager
FLOYDS: Cross-dispersed Low-resolution Spectrograph


LCO-1m Global Network

Sinistro: Optical Imager
NRES: High-resolution Fiber-fed Echelle Spectrograph



CHIRON: High-resolution Fiber-fed Cross-dispersed Echelle Spectrograph for Precision RV



CFIM+T2K: Cass Direct + SITe 2K CCD

WIYN 0.9m

HDI: Half-Degree Imager

5. How to Acknowledge Use of NOAO Facilities

There are a variety of credit lines which are appropriate for citing the use of data from one or more of the NOAO facilities. Please acknowledge the proper observatories by using the appropriate credit line as discussed below.

NOAO generic press release
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) consists of Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory near La Serena, Chile, and the NOAO System Science Center. NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
Observers should also note their NOAO proposal ID and observing dates in their publications either in a footnote, or in the observations section or acknowledgments sections of their papers.
Visitors are asked to add a Kitt Peak byline on the title page, as a footnote to the author, that reads:
Visiting Astronomer, Kitt Peak National Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
NOAO staff members are asked to add a footnote after their names on the title page that reads: Kitt Peak National Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
In addition to the Kitt Peak credit line, Case Western Reserve University has requested that a special acknowledgement be included on papers resulting from observations obtained with the Burrell Schmidt telescope:
Observations made with the Burrell Schmidt of the Warner and Swasey Observatory, Case Western Reserve University.
In addition to the Kitt Peak Credit line, the WIYN Observatory Corporation has requested that the following acknowledgement be included in any paper using WIYN data. The acknowledgement should be included as a footnote on the title page. The WIYN Board also encourages the mention of WIYN in the title or abstract of the paper:
The WIYN Observatory is a joint facility of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Indiana University, Yale University, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
For publications resulting from NN-EXPLORE telescope time, please include this text: "Data presented herein were obtained at the WIYN Observatory from telescope time allocated to NN-EXPLORE through the scientific partnership of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory."
It is expected that visiting observers making use of CTIO facilities will utilize the observations they obtain for the preparation of a publication describing their research activity. Publications by visiting observers should carry the following credit lines:
Visiting astronomer, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which are operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, under contract with the National Science Foundation.
Visiting observers who use CTIO facilities for only a small part of a larger program should include suitable acknowledgement to the Observatory in their publication or dissertation.
To properly acknowledge the use of data obtained with the SOAR telescope in publications, whether partially or entirely based on SOAR data, please include an asterisk by the paper title referring to a footnote stating:
"Based on observations obtained at the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope, which is a joint project of the Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, e Inovação (MCTI) da República Federativa do Brasil, the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and Michigan State University (MSU)."
Papers containing data from the Gemini telescopes (e.g., an ApJ paper) should include the following general acknowledgment as a footnote on the first page or in the last section before the references:
Based on observations obtained at the Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF on behalf of the Gemini partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), the National Research Council (Canada), CONICYT (Chile), the Australian Research Council (Australia), Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia (Brazil) and Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (Argentina).
If appropriate, please also acknowledge the provision of visiting instrument(s) as described in the relevant "documents" web pages for that instrument.
Authors are also asked to give the identification number ("Program ID") of the program(s) under which their data were obtained, e.g. GN-2004A-Q-10, or GS-2003B-C- 1, or GN-2002B-SV-78 or GS-2005A-DD-96. We recommend that this reference to the Program ID be made in the acknowledgement section at the end of the paper or in the Observations section of the paper.
Please acknowledge NSF-TSIP support by including the following in all publications relating to TSIP observing time (preferably as a footnote on the title page): “[Keck, MMT, or Magellan] telescope time was granted by NOAO, through the Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP). TSIP is funded by NSF.” Observers should also note their NOAO proposal ID and observing dates in their publications either in the same footnote, or in the observations section or acknowledgments sections of their papers.
In addition for Keck time, please include the standard Keck acknowledgements at


Last updated or reviewed February 3, 2020.