Keck I and Keck II, with possible trades for SUBARU time.
Observing Semester :
Summary: 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. fall quarter inclusive for
A semester/fall-submitted observing proposals).
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.
Summary: Proposals are prepared using provided template documents
and telescope-specific cover sheet forms, rendered into PDF, and submitted in
email as described in the following sub-sections.
3.1 Proposal Package Outline
Each proposal should cover a single, coherent, well-defined scientific topic.
Proposals consist of three components: Cover sheet (section 3.2),
Discussion (including Scientific Justification, Technical Justification,
and Supplementary Information; section 3,3),
Observing List (if available in advance, e.g. not relevant for TOO/transient programs;
section 3.4). All proposals shall include these components, and may also
include additional components (e.g.
Date-Specific Supplement) as appropriate.
A report of your observing history and bibliography (section 4.0) 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 Palomar project shall be designated as Primary;
all others are Secondary.
All Caltech-COO telescope time proposals shall follow the
available in either MS Word,
or LaTeX form (see also the supporting
P200 Large Project proposals may not be combined with
Keck proposals, but must instead be separate, distinct proposal
package submissions. Please see the updated
Palomar Large Project
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.
3.2 Cover Sheets
Keck: Log into your Keck account at the
Keck Observer Login Page.
Fill in the required information, particularly including the project abstract.
For guidance regarding the selection of acceptable runs, see
section 3.2.1 below.
Palomar: Log into the appropriate Palomar cover sheet
(see links at left) and fill in the required information, particularly including the project abstract.
3.2.1 Run Table Entries
Both Keck and Palomar cover sheets use a run table and a system of P's and A's
to designate project preferred and acceptable runs respectively. Proposers shall fill-in the
run table, entering P and A designations for each proposed observing block --
one row in the observing table for each separate observing program block in the semester.
The telescope scheduler will will typically only assign observing time in a run that
has been designated by the proposer as P or A. Proposers are strongly
recommended to be as flexible/generous as possible in designating acceptable runs;
highly-restrictive acceptable selections make telescope scheduling difficult and,
in extreme cases, may even preclude the assignment of observing time to the project.
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.
3.3 Proposal Discussion & Figures
Using one of the MS Word,
or LaTeX proposal templates,
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.
Project abstracts are included on the corresponding
cover sheet (section 3.2), so it is viable to omit repeating the abstract in the
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.
3.4 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.
3.5 Proposal Package Submission
When finished, combine your cover sheet, discussion and observing list into a single consolidated
pdf document (see section 5 below)
and attach it to an e-mail to
not later than
As it eases processing the last-minute proposal rush we
welcome and encourage early proposal submissions.
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
Summary: All applicants shall submit an
Observing History and Bibliography report supporting proposal submissions.
The COO Director places a premium on the demonstrated
effective use of telescope time and timely publication of results derived
from observations. Accordingly, all proposers are required to submit an
Observing History and Bibliography report
as a separate submission/document, distinct from any submitted proposal packages.
Your Observing History and Bibliography 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 Informational Notes
Summary: This section contains a collection of specific, informational notes relevant to
Caltech proposers to Keck and Palomar.
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 proposal template
section 2.5). For Palomar, load the Date-Specific Cover Sheet Supplement,
fill in the required information and include it in your proposal as an addendum
to the appropriate cover sheet/proposal package.
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 governing policies in place for
Time-Domain Astronomy (TDA). Please find current Keck 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.
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.
Please note that P200 Large Project proposals may not be
combined with Keck proposals, but must instead be separate, distinct proposal
Please see the updated
Hale Telescope Large Project policy.
Applicants for Keck Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations shall report on the status
of any previous ToO allocations at either Keck or Palomar. See proposal template section 2.7.
There are typically Keck 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, especially
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 selection criteria:
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 should clearly indicate their proposal seeks Caltech/Swinburne Collaborative
Proposal consideration (e.g. in the abstract and science narrative), and may use up to
0.5 additional pages in the discussion (template section 1.0) 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.
Most P200/Hale Telescope instruments may be used in remote observing mode.
For additional information, see
P200 Observer Information.
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 project and if there is a high probability that they will
be used during requested observing runs.
Applicants for Palomar Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations shall report on the status
of any previous ToO allocations at either Keck or Palomar. See the proposal template section 2.7.
Proposals for 200-inch time in support of Large Projects may be submitted. See
Hale/P200 Telescope Large Project Policy
Please note that P200 Large Project proposals may not 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.
Merging PDF Package Components
Combine all proposal components (cover sheet, discussion section (including the figures
and observing list)) into single PDF document.
For information on merging PDF documents, see
PDF File Merging.
Summary: This section contains relevant links for Keck and Palomar instrumentation information.
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.
Please share your feedback on this page at the COO Feedback portal
COO Proposal Call / v 2023A-rc1
Last updated: 29 August 2022 JXZ/RJB/AFB/ACM