Proposal Format



WMKO Login

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 2016B

The 2016B Call Closed 5:00 pm PDT Friday 01 April 2016

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.
  • The system of P/s and A/s to designate preferred and acceptable runs (respectively), intended to take the guess-work out of scheduling, rests on two conditions: First, observers need to be as generous as possible in designating acceptable runs, since overly-constrictive selections make scheduling difficult and, in extreme cases, may even preclude the assignment of observing time to the project. A good approach would be to tag any observing run as Acceptable if the data can be obtained during that period. Second, the scheduler will not assign observing time in a run that has not been tagged by the observer with a P or an A. Should circumstances obtain that such assignment might be needed, the scheduler will discuss the situation with the observer before any exception to the rule is applied.
  • 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 three parts: Cover Sheet, Discussion & Figures, Observing List.
    1. Cover Sheets:
      • Keck: Follow the procedures at Applying for Keck Telescope Time. Keck uses an on-line system with password protection to allow observers to retrieve and modify their cover sheets. If you are a returning observer, use the same account information as in previous semesters. If you are a new observer, request an account by following the instructions on the log-in page.
      • Palomar: Please use the appropriate cover sheet
      • Hale 200-in Telescope 60-in Telescope Oschin 48-in Telescope Palomar ToO
      • Specify the details of your requested observing runs. Be sure to name the instrument required and the number of nights requested. If you want your observing time scheduled in single block (if possible), enter the P/s and A/s on a single line in the cover sheet table. If, however, you want the time split into two or more runs, use a separate line for each run.
    2. Discussion & Figures: 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. Please note that our policies have changed for 2016B: figures and tables may now be directly embedded in the proposal narrative at the proposers discretion. Discussion and figures/tables can be mixed as long as neither category exceeds the limits given below. 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. 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.
    3. Observing List: Provide a list of targets to be observed, including names, coordinates and magnitudes. Please give right ascensions in units hms (not degrees).

  • 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 and observing list into a single pdf document (see note below) and attach it to an e-mail to brucato-[at]-astro.caltech.edu not later than 5:00 pm PDT Friday 01 April 2016.

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 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 calendar 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 Aug05 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 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 is required.
  • Target of Opportunity projects may be requested for Keck and/or the 200-inch. See ToO Policy for details. All Keck ToO requests are assumed by default to be part of the Keck Partnership ToO program.


  • For Keck instrument availability in 2016B, 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.
  • Keck II Laser: LGSAO on Keck II will be available throughout the semester with no restrictions. The commissioning of the new Toptica fiber laser is going well and it is anticipated the project to complete, with the laser fully integrated, tested, and ready for science.
  • Keck I Laser: A new infrared tip/tilt (IR T/T) sensor will be available for Shared-Risk operation in 2016B. The details of use and performance can be found at LGSAO with TRICK or STRAP
  • NIRC2 L-band vortex coronagraph will be available in 2016B for use on a Shared-Risk basis.
  • NIRES will not be available in 2016B.
  • OSIRIS will be unavailable for science from 01 January 2017 through 01 May 2017 for the imager detector upgrade.
  • Due to primary mirror recoating, Subaru will not be available for use from early August to early October. Subaru will offer FOCAS, HDS, MOIRCS (available in a Shared-Risk mode), IRCS (with NGS/LGSAO188 elements), and COMICS. Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) will also be available during the following dark times: late Jul-early August, late Oct- early Nov, late Nov-early Dec, late Dec-early Jan, and late Jan-early Feb. Suprime-Cam and FMOS will be unavailable in 2016B; FMOS is scheduled to be decommissioned, but Suprime-Cam may return to availability in 2017A.


  • 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, WASP, 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. Please note that P200 Large Project policies have changed for the 16B solicitation.
  • New for 2016B P200 will support a "Cadence Observing" Program: in 2016B we will be experimenting with a P200 "Cadence Observing" program implemented entirely within the Caltech constituency. Such a program is intended to monitor sources whose properties vary with time (e.g. evolving supernovae or orbit), or make small numbers of short individual observations that are poorly suited to execute in a single night allocation. In this first semester we will select not more than five (5) cadence programs of high merit to begin the trial program. The program will be executed by scheduling short (i.e. under 60 minute) windows dedicated to cadence observations throughout the semester. The observatory expects the selected project teams to directly participate in cadence observations, primarily through remote observing from 144 Cahill.

    Proposals to the P200 cadence program should be short (max 1 page 11pt font -- excluding P200 coversheet and target information), support a single science theme, and request less than eight hours of total observation time including instrument (focus) changeovers. To enhance the likelihood of successful execution, targets should be relatively bright (~ 16 mag or brighter), and use P200's core instrument suite (DBSP, TSpec, WIRC, LFC/WaSP). Proponents should have previous demonstrated experience with the instrument they are requesting, or include such experience through collaboration.

  • 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 spectroscopic observations using the SED Machine, which will be available on a Shared-Risk basis for spectroscopic observations in 2016B; interested parties should contact Don Neill (neill@srl.caltech.edu). Please note that we anticipate the SEDM imager/Rainbow Camera transitioning to facility status during 2016B.
  • 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

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 [2012B to 2016A, 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 [2012B to 2016A, 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 Friday 01 April 2016.

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 2016B / v 1.0final2
Last updated: 25 March 2016 RJB/AFB/ACM