Keck I and Keck II, with possible trades for SUBARU time.
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 and
throughout the subsequent academic quarter (i.e. spring quarter inclusive for B semester/fall-submitted observing
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.
3.0 Proposal Format
Each proposal should cover a single, coherent, well-defined scientific topic.
Proposals consist of three components: Cover sheet, Discussion, Observing list (if available in advance, e.g. not TOO/transient).
All proposals shall include these components.
A report of your observing history and bibliography (see below) is a required adjunct to your submitted proposal set.
If you submit two or more Keck proposals, the one representing your highest-priority shall be designated
as Primary; all others are Secondary. Similarly, if you submit two or more proposals for the Palomar telescopes,
your highest priority project shall be designated as Primary; all others are Secondary.
All Caltech-COO telescope time proposals shall follow the proposal template
available in either MS Word,
or LaTeX form (see also the supporting
IMPORTANT: On advice from the Time Allocation Committee, P200 Large Project proposals may
no longer be combined with Keck proposals, but must instead be separate,
distinct proposal submissions. Please see the updated
Palomar Large Project
IMPORTANT: On advice from the Time Allocation Committee, TOO proposers with previous TOO allocations
must include a report on allocated and activated TOO triggers over the previous two semesters in new
TOO observing proposals. Please see (section 2.7 in) the
and LaTeX proposal template forms.
IMPORTANT: On advice from the Time Allocation Committee, the page limit for general proposals has decreased.
Please note these changes in the
and LaTeX proposal template forms
and table 3.2 below.
3.1 Cover Sheets
Keck: Log into your Keck account at the
Keck Observer Login Page.
Fill in the required information. For guidance regarding the selection of acceptable runs, see the
Palomar: Log into the appropriate Palomar cover sheet
(see links at left) and fill in the required information.
3.2 Discussion & Figures
Using either the MS Word,
or LaTeX proposal template,
provide a concise (see page limits, below) description of the project, explaining
the scientific goals and methodology, and justifying the observing time and equipment
requested in the present semester. Include citations to publications referenced in the
discussion. New project proposals shall present an estimate of the total observing time
required to complete the project; continuing project proposals shall summarize the status
of previously obtained data and an updated estimate of the observing time needed to complete
the project. The proposal template is structured to facilitate proposals responsive to these
requirements; please fill out the template following (and replacing) the embedded instructions.
Discussion & Figures
General Proposals (both Primary and Secondary)
5.5 pages plus observing list
Palomar - Large Project
8 pages plus observing list
Definition: 1 page = One side of a sheet 8½ × 11 inches, with suitable margins. Type size = 11- or 12-point.
3.3 Observing List
Provide a list of targets to be observed, including names, coordinates (in
and apparent magnitudes. Observing lists do not count in the proposal page limit.
If you do not receive confirmation of your proposal submission within 48 hours, contact brucato-[at]-astro.caltech.edu immediately.
4.0 Observing History and Bibliography
The Director and the Time Allocation Committee place a high premium on the effective use
of telescope time and the timely publication of results derived from the observations.
Accordingly, all proposers are required to submit an Observing History and Bibliography
report as a separate document, distinct from any proposals. Your report shall consist of:
Observing History: List the observing time allocated to you for all projects in the last four semesters
[ inclusive] and summarize the status of each. Provide:
Telescope and proposal number.
Number of nights allocated and the number of nights usable.
This report is important for all proposers, but particularly so for applicants who are requesting continuations of
projects previously awarded time by the Caltech TAC.
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 four
semesters [ inclusive], even if you were not the principal
investigator of the observing proposal(s).
Submit (a PDF rendering of) the Observing History/Bibliography report in separate e-mail
(i.e. not integrated with a proposal) to brucato-[at]-astro.caltech.edu
by the proposal due date (
5.0 General Notes
Date-Specific Observing is restricted to projects requiring observations at particular times
(e.g., occultations, transits, critical phase coverage in a binary, etc.). Proposers requesting date-specific
observations must check the Date-Specific box on the proposal cover sheet, and justify the date specificity (i.e. see
the proposal template section 2.5). For Palomar, download
the DS Supplement, fill in the required information
and include it in your proposal as an addendum to the cover sheet.
5.1 Special Notes - Keck
Only a single proposal is needed for a project involving both Keck I and Keck II.
By November 2018 Keck SSC/CARA Board/WMKO Director action there are new policies in place for
Time-Domain Astronomy (TDA). Please find these updated policies at the
WMKO Cadence & TOO Policy webpage.
Partial nights (¾, ½, ¼) may be requested at Keck, however project advocates should be mindful
that it is more difficult (and may not always be possible) to schedule partial night allocations.
NEW: Anticipating potential 2021B COVID impacts, WMKO is specifically discouraging
partial-night allocations and encouraging whole-night allocations from advocates.
Following 5.1.2 above there are now five observing modes at Keck relevant for Caltech proposers:
Caltech Internal ToO - Target of Opportunity interrupts of Caltech observer (see
Caltech TOO page).
This is the default ToO request status unless otherwise specified by the proposer
[ToO proposers should refer to the proposal template section 2.6].
Partnership ToO - Target of Opportunity interrupts of all Keck partners. See
Partnership ToO Policy.
Proposers for Keck Partnership ToOs must specify their requested number of Partnership ToOs
clearly in their proposal in the proposal template section 2.6.
[Please note the maximum number of Partnership ToO interrupts
available to Caltech is seven (7) per semester.]
For projects involving both Keck and standard Palomar requests, submit the Keck and Palomar cover sheets
separately. The discussion and observing list need be attached only to the Keck cover sheet.
IMPORTANT: However, please note that P200 Large Project proposals may no longer
be combined with Keck proposals, but must instead be separate, distinct proposal submissions.
Please see the updated
Palomar Large Project
There are several telescope infrastructure and instrument-specific status notes for semester
Proposers are strongly encouraged to consult the
Keck Instrument Availability
webpage for authoritative status information.
SUBARU exchange: The SUBARU-KECK exchange will continue as previous semesters with flexibility as
to the number of nights available for exchange. The final number will be determined based on the demand
from each community. Please see the
Keck Instrument Availability
webpage for pertinent Subaru instrument information in semester .
In accordance with the Caltech and Swinburne collaborative agreement for Keck, the COO and SUT Directors have
agreed to set aside, between them, 1-2 nights each semester from their Director’s allocation to support highly
ranked Caltech-SUT collaborative proposals. These proposals should seek to develop new and innovative scientific
collaborations esp. those with long term strategic potential to have high scientific impact and/or increase
the research capabilities of each organization. These proposals should seek to meet the following additional
High-risk high-reward pilot proposals for new science,
pilot for strategic collaborative project
significant ongoing collaboration potential
evidence of existing significant ongoing collaboration
Applicants may use up to 0.5 additional pages in the proposal template (science narrative section) to
discuss how their proposal meets all or any of these selection criteria. The Directors will request
input from their respective TACs on CIT-SUT collaborative proposal time allocations.
The final decision on these allocations will be made by the COO and SUT Directors jointly. The Directors
reserve the right not to make an allocation if proposals do not reach a high enough bar.
5.2 Special Notes - Palomar
Proposers may request full or half nights on Hale/P200.
Project advocates should be mindful that it is more difficult (and may not always be possible)
to schedule partial night allocations.
For Hale Telescope instruments, see
Palomar Observer Information.
Private and Semi-private
instruments may be requested only with prior approval of the instrument builder. Please include in the discussion a
confirmation that appropriate arrangements have been made.
DBSP, WaSP, WIRC, CHIMERA, and TripleSpec may be operated by remote observing.
Further, the PHARO infrared imaging camera used with the facility adaptive optics system is being used
remotely during the pandemic on a trial basis. For additional information, see
At the 200-inch telescope, proposers may request instruments to be installed simultaneously at the prime
focus and Cassegrain focus but project advocates must justify the request in the proposal.
Secondary instruments should be requested only if they are integral to the program
and if there is a high probability that they will be used during requested observing runs.
Proposals for 200-inch time in support of Large Projects may be submitted. See
Proposals for details.
IMPORTANT: P200 Large Project proposals may no longer be combined with Keck proposals,
but must instead be separate, distinct proposal submissions.
Palomar 60-inch Telescope - Proposal solicitation for P60 observing time is
deferred to a supplementary call to be announced later.
Oschin (P48) Telescope - Proposal solicitation for P48 observing time is
deferred to a supplementary call to be announced later.
IMPORTANT: As of this writing (February 2021) Palomar and the Hale Telescope continue to operate under
limited operations guidelines
because of the global pandemic. In particular astronomers are not permitted on-site at Palomar or Keck and
must execute all observations by
and available instrumentation may be limited.
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.
P200 instrumentation is summarized on the
P200 Observer 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)] on your cover sheet.
7.1 Specifying Preferred Observing Runs
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.
Putting all the P's and A's on a single line means you want the time scheduled in a single block, if possible. If you want the time
distributed into two or more blocks, use a separate line for each block.
Please share your feedback on this page at the COO Feedback portal
COO Proposal Call / v 2021B-rc2
Last updated: 15 March 2021 JXZ/RJB/AFB/ACM