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PI's guide to Proposal Routes and Observing modes

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What proposal mode should I pick?

  • I have a particularly compelling science idea that needs Band 1 treatment asap - Ask for director's discretionary time (DD). Response time is typically a day or two. DD proposals may be risky or not, but they should be for observations of high-priority targets that warrant immediate action.
  • I want data soon - Use fast turnaround (FT). This has monthly deadlines and if your proposal is successful you may get data within a few months.
  • I have a regular science program and normal (six month) timescales are fine - Use the regular semester queue. Programs can be of any length, though PIs from larger partners are encouraged to apply for at least 10 hours.
  • I need a lot of data and expect it to take a while - use Large and Long Programs (LLP). This has an annual deadline in March (programs start in the B semester) and allows you to set up programs that run over multiple years if needed.
  • I have special conditions (e.g. IQ20) or timing constraints - Use queue mode via the regular semester process, fast turnaround (FT), or large and long programs (LLP) depending on the length of the project and the urgency.
  • I have bright targets and can work with really bad conditions - Use Poor weather proposals (PW). You can submit these at any time. They go to the Head of Science Operations at the relevant site for vetting; if they are technically feasible and we can accommodate them (target RAs are first-come-first-served) they will be allowed into the queue and done when conditions are sufficiently poor that nothing else is feasible.

What observing options do I have?

  • Just send me my data - FT and Semesterly queue work this way. We observe for you, based on an executable program that you create.
  • I can demonstrate that my program needs my presence during the observations and I can accept the risk of being weathered off completely - Request classical time in the regular semester process. Historically TACs have been reluctant to approve this unless the case for being present to interact with the observations is clear enough.
  • I'd like to be physically present but I would prefer to mitigate the risk of weather loss - Apply for regular queue and ask to be considered for Priority Visitor mode. See the description for limitations (PV applies by default only to Band 1 LLPs and is at the observatory's discretion for other programs); we typically only allocate a few of these runs per semester (besides the LLPs).
  • I'd like the chance to interact with the observers when data are taken - Apply for the regular queue, and ask to sign up for eavesdropping. We don't guarantee to contact you at night, so your program needs to be able to run without this, but this mode gives you the option of looking at e.g. the acquisition frames and judging s/n etc. while we execute your predefined observations.
  • I want my student to get observing experience - Apply for either classical time or the regular queue and request Priority Visitor mode (restrictions as above). It is also possible to apply for regular queue time and the student is welcome to visit for a number of nights when their targets are likely to be observed. Gemini can also subsidize the cost of a student's trip via the 'Bring one, get one' program.

Gemini Observatory Participants