Palomar Observatory

Keck Observatory

Caltech Optical Observatories

Caltech Astronomy

California Institute of Technology

2018 SURF Observing Program

Proposals Due 5p PDT Saturday 14 July 2018


Every year we provide opportunities for Caltech-resident SURF students to experience observing with the Palomar Observatory Hale/200-inch (P200) Telescope. Interested students will submit short proposals for observing time, and successful applicants will be invited to visit the observatory and conduct the observations.

Observing Opportunities

For 2018 the pre-allocated SURF observing nights on P200 are 21 July (bright) and 08 August (dark) 2018. Please be advised that the telescope and instrument schedule (including these nights) is set months in advance and cannot be changed.

Interested SURF students will submit a short (two pages maximum -- details below) proposal on observations to be undertaken in the available time. Typical SURF observing project are aimed at either clarifying a law of nature (e.g. eclipsing binaries and Kepler's laws) or resolving the nature of a poorly-studied source. We encourage applicants to discuss possible projects with their Caltech SURF sponsor -- often the most effective SURF projects align with the student's normal SURF activities. Successful applicants will be allocated between two and four hours of observing time, and will travel to Palomar Observatory for their assigned time. Lodging at Palomar will also be included in the selection.

Proposers may wish to note that the Kepler ( field is up for a good fraction of the night during the available nights.

Proposals for the 21 July (bright) opportunity will have the TripleSpec near-infrared, moderate resolution spectrograph and the WIRC near-infrared imaging camera available for their observations. Applicants for the 08 August (dark) opportunity will have the Double Spectrograph (DBSP) optical, moderate-resolution spectrograph and the Wafer Scale Imager for Prime (WASP) optical imaging camera available for their proposed observations. Sorry, but no other P200 instrumentation will be available on these nights. We strongly encourage proposers to be specific about the kinds of observations and the instrumentation they are requesting in this opportunity.

Application Details

Students who wish to apply to this opportunity individually or in small (<= 3) groups should write a two-page science narrative + proposed observation proposal. No more than one page should be text (font size of 11 points or larger). A figure or two, feasibility calculations and references should go into the second page of the proposal. Proposals should be rendered into PDF format and sent in email to COO Deputy Director Andy Boden (bode at not later than 5:00 PM PDT Saturday 14 July 2018. Successful applicants will be notified of their assigned time not later than Tuesday 17 July. Because of this tight decision timeline late applications cannot be accepted.

Observing Arrangements

Successful applicants will be assigned time on either (or possibly both) 21 July or 08 August 2018. On-site accommodations (room and board) will be provided at the Palomar Observers Dormitory ("the Monastery") to successful applicants. Experienced observers and Palomar staff Support Astronomers will be on-hand to support the execution of SURF observing projects.

We typically select no more than four (4) recipients per night (for a total of up to 8 selections), and the minimum allocation is two (2) hours (wall clock) per selection -- although four-hour allocations may be considered for particularly strong proposals.

Additional Resources

SURF Observing Page / v 21Jun2018
Last updated: 21 June 2018 AFB