Proposal Format



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P200 Cover Sheet

P60 Cover Sheet

P48 Cover Sheet

Palomar ToO Cover Sheet

Palomar Observatory

Keck Observatory

Caltech Optical Observatories

Caltech Astronomy

California Institute of Technology

Call for Proposals 2016A

The 2016A Call Closed on 29 September 2015

This Material Provided For Reference Only


  • Keck I and Keck II, with possible trades for SUBARU time.
  • Palomar 200-inch.
  • Palomar 60-inch (service observing only).
  • Palomar Oschin Telescope (service observing only).


Caltech Faculty, Senior Research Associates, Senior Research Fellows, Post-Doctoral Scholars, Senior Research Staff (approved by the COO Director) and Graduate Students may apply for COO-administered observing time at Keck and Palomar, subject to the following:

  • Applicants must be in residence at Caltech at the time proposals are submitted.
  • Caltech Faculty and Senior Research Associates may submit no more than three Keck proposals and/or any number of Palomar proposals.
  • Caltech Senior Research Fellows, Post-Doctoral Scholars and Senior Research Staff may submit any number of Palomar proposals but are limited to one Keck proposal per semester.
  • Caltech Graduate Students may apply for Palomar time only.

Proposal Format

  • Each proposal should cover a single, coherent, well-defined scientific topic.
  • If two or more Keck proposals are submitted, the one representing your highest-priority should be designated as Priority 1 or Principal; all others are Priority 2 or Secondary. Similarly, if two or more proposals are submitted for the Palomar telescopes, your highest priority project should be designated as Principal and all others as Secondary. Only one proposal for Keck time and only one proposal for 200-inch time may be designated as Principal. Proposal priority designations are made on the Keck and Palomar coversheets -- please make your priority intent clear for time allocation processing, and please note that page limits for Principal and Secondary proposals are different (see below).
  • Proposals consist of four parts: Cover Sheet, Discussion, Figures, Observing List.
    1. Cover Sheets:
    2. Discussion: Provide a short (see page limits, below) description of the project, explaining the scientific goals and methodology, and justifying the time and equipment requested. Also include citations to publications referenced in the discussion. For new projects, provide an estimate of the total time required to complete the work; for continuing projects, give the status of previously obtained data and an estimate of the time needed to finish. For projects in support of an approved thesis, include an estimate of the total observing time required, the time already allocated and the status of the data already in hand. Explain any constraints that may affect scheduling. Do not embed the figures within the text of the Discussion section.
    3. Figures: Collect all images, graphs, tables, etc. into a single section. N.B. Copies of the proposals sent to the TAC members will be printed in black-and-white format but the committee members will be able to access color versions in a secure on-line directory.
    4. Observing List: Provide a list of targets to be observed, including names, coordinates and magnitudes.
  • Page limits: 1 page = One side of a sheet 8½ x 11 inches, with suitable margins. Type size = 11- or 12-point.
  • DescriptionDiscussion FiguresObserving List
    Principal Proposal 3 pages 4 pages As needed
    Secondary Proposals 2 pages 4 pages As needed
    Palomar - Large Project 8 pages 4 pages As needed
  • When finished, combine your cover sheet with the Discussion, Figures and Observing List into a single pdf document (see note below). Check that the file is smaller that 1M and attach it to an e-mail to brucato-[at]-astro.caltech.edu not later than 5:00 pm PDT Tuesday 29 September 2015. The subject line of the message should be in the following form: [your last name]-[Telescope]-[A sequence number to distinquish it from others others submitted for the same telescope]. Examples: Jones-Keck-1 or Jones-P200-2.

Special Notes


  • Date-Specific Observing – Restricted to projects requiring observations only at very precise times (e.g., occultations, transits, critical phase coverage in a binary, etc.). Be sure to check the Date-Specific box on the cover sheet. Scheduling a Date-Specific project correctly obviously is essential to the project but the process is open to confusion, mainly because the date of an observing night as it appears on the schedule (15 May, for example) actually includes observing time on two dates (15 and 16 May, in the example). To preclude any ambiguity, please provide a table listing the individual events to be observed, including the following information:
    • Name of target
    • Coordinates of target
    • Type of event to be observed
    • Time and date of event (local time, not UT)
    • Date on Schedule

    TargetRADecEvent TypeTimeSchedule
    Kepler 1319h 07.8m+47d 52mTransit01:15HT 06 Aug5 Aug (= 5/6 Aug)
    SameSameSameSame22:30HT 12 Aug12 Aug (= 12/13 Aug)
    WASP 77b02h 28.5m-07d 04mTransit00:00HT 21 Nov20 Nov (= 20/21 Nov)

  • For projects involving both Keck and Palomar, submit the Keck and Palomar cover sheets separately. The discussion, figures and observing list need be attached only to the Keck cover sheet.
  • Requests for half nights will be accommodated within the constraints set by the scheduling. When requesting half nights, specify in the proposal discussion whether first-half or second-half time i is required.
  • Target of Opportunity projects may be requested for Keck and/or the 200-inch. See ToO Policy for details.


  • For Keck instrument availability in 2016A, go to Keck Instrument Availability.
  • Only a single proposal (cover sheet, discussion, figures and observing list) is needed for a project involving both Keck I and Keck II.
  • LGS observing at Keck is critically dependent on conditions and you are advised to have a contingency plan should LGS be unavailable. See Policy on Backup Instruments During LGS-AO Runs.
  • Keck II Laser: In order to support the installation and testing of the Keck II next generation laser, the Keck II LGS AO system will be unavailable for science observing through mid-April 2016 but will be available for Shared-Risk science observing from mid-April 2016 onward. The Keck II NGS AO system will be available for science observing throughout semester 2016A
  • NIRSPEC will be unavailable for science for approximately four weeks in March 2016 for a routine servicing mission.
  • OSIRIS will be unavailable for science through early March 2016 for the spec detector upgrade.
  • A limited amount of Keck time may be traded for time at SUBARU in 2015B. SUBARU will offer:
    • Suprime-Cam (available in May dark/grey time only)
    • FOCAS
    • HDS
    • MOIRCS (available on a Shared Risk basis following a detector up-grade)
    • IRCS (with NGS/LGSAO188 elements)
    • FMOS (to be de-commissioned in May 2016)
    • COMICS
    • Hyper Suprime-Cam (maximum of 3 or 4 nights to all Keck Observers); available on a Shared Risk basis (dark/grey time in February, March, April, June and July).


  • For projects involving more than one Palomar telescope, submit the appropriate cover sheet for each separately. The discussion, figures and observing list need be attached to only the cover sheet for the larger telescope.
  • For Hale Telescope instruments, see P200 Observer Information. Private and Semi-private instruments may be requested only with the prior approval of the instrument builder. Please include in the discussion a confirmation that appropriate arrangements have been made.
  • DBSP, LFC, WIRC and TripleSpec may be operated by remote observing. For additional information, see Cahill Remote Observing Facilities.
  • For information on the Palm 3000 system (P3K), see the P3K Observers information summary.
  • P3K+SWIFT/AO and P3K+SWIFT/nonAO will be available on a Shared-Risk basis.
  • Observers using the 200-inch telescope may request instruments to be installed simultaneously at the prime focus and Cassegrain focus. The use of a secondary instrument must be identified on the cover sheet and fully justified in the proposal discussion. On the Cover Sheet, select the principal instrument to be used from the drop-down lists on the Observing Time Preferences table and specify the secondary instrument in the space provided under Additional Information. Secondary instruments should be requested only if they are integral to the program and if there is a very high probability that they will be used during the observing run.
  • Proposals for 200-inch time in support of Large Projects may be submitted. See Large Project Proposals for details.
  • Palomar 60-inch Telescope - A share of the Science Time at the 60-inch may be allocated to Caltech observers for general research. Please see P60 Observer Information for information on planning P60 observations. In addition to the facility CCD camera, Caltech observers may request observing time using the SED Machine, which will be available on a Shared-Risk basis. Contact Konidarias (npk@caltech.edu)
  • Oschin (P48) Telescope - Up to 20% of the time at the Oschin/P48 Telescope (with the MOSAIC camera) may be allocated to Caltech observers for general research. Please see P48 Observer Information for information on planning P48 observations. Note P48 operates in service observing only.

Note on Merging PDF Documents

Combine the cover sheet and discussion section (including the figures and observing list) of each proposal into a single pdf document. For information on merging pdf documents, see PDF File Merging

Proposal pdf documents are typically 500K to 1M in size. Files larger than 1M are cumbersome to handle, so, if your proposal is larger than 1M, please try reducing the resolution of your images.

Observing History and Bibliography

The Director and the Time Allocation Committee place a high premium on the effective use of telescope time and the prompt publication of results derived from the observations. Accordingly, your report accounting for your previous observing time and your publications constitutes an important adjunct to your proposals. Submit this report as a single, two-part document consisting of:

  1. Observing History: List the observing time allocated to you for all projects in the last eight semesters [2012A to 2015B, inclusive] and summarize the status of each. Provide:
    • Semester.
    • Telescope and proposal number.
    • Instrument(s) used.
    • Number of nights allocated and the number of nights useable.
    • For ToO projects, give a comprehensive list of the interrupts invoked, including for each the date, telescope, instrument and duration.
  2. Bibliography: Provide a bibliography of your refereed papers based on Keck (or from observing time awarded through Keck trades) and/or Palomar data, published or submitted for publication during the last eight semesters [2012A to 2015B, inclusive], even if you were not the principal investigator of the observing proposals.

Attach the report (as a pdf document) to an e-mail to brucato@astro.caltech.edu (not later than 5:00 pm PDT Monday, 28 September 2015 with the subject line in the following form: [your last name]-History. (For example: Jones-History)

Submit this report as a completely separate document. Do not include it in your proposal(s).


Keck Instruments

Instrumentation for the Keck Telescopes is summarized on the WMKO Keck Instrument Page.

200-inch Telescope Instruments

Instrumentation for P200 is summarized on the P200 Instrument Page. If you propose to bring your own equipment to P200 please specify the appropriate focus code [Prime Focus (OE-PF), Cassegrain (OE-Cass w/o P3K), Cassegrain + P3K Base (OE-Cass w/ P3K), or Coudé (OE-Coudé)] on your P200 coversheet.

COO Proposal Call 2016A / v 1.0.1
Last updated: 25 September 2015 RJB/AFB/ACM