Applying for ESO observing time

The Call for Proposals for Period 109 has been announced (for observations between 1 April 2022 – 30 September 2022). 

Proposal deadline

Thursday 23 September 2021 at noon Central European Summer Time (8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 6pm Australian Western Standard Time).

Under the terms of the Strategic Partnership between ESO and Australia, Australian-based astronomers have access to the facilities of the La Silla and Paranal Observatories, specifically the:

  • 3.6-m telescope (3.6);

  • New Technology Telescope (NTT);

  • Very Large Telescope (VLT);

  • Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI); and

  • Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA).

Proposals for ESO time to use the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) antenna on Chajnantor will also be considered on the same basis as those from any ESO member state.

Complete details on how to apply can be found at the P109 Call for Proposals web page. All applicants should consult the Call for Proposals document for Period 109, and are required to update their ESO User Portal accounts to submit or be on proposals.

A wealth of information for Australian applicants can be found on AAL’s Australian ESO Forum. Any questions about policies or the practical aspects of proposal preparation should be addressed to the ESO Observing Programmes Office, [email protected]. Applicants who may wish to seek advice on proposal or observing strategies, optimal choice of instrument, etc. are invited to contact AAL’s ESO Program Manager at [email protected].

Important Data Privacy Notice for all recent and intending Australian ESO applicants

ESO supplies AAL with telescope/instrument demand and time allocation data relating to Australian astronomers only. Australian ESO applicant data is used only for statistical purposes, and will only be published or made available to other third parties such as AAL member institutions, in aggregated and anonymised form. ESO’s data collection/use provisions are available on the AAL ESO Forum for reference. It may be necessary to use automated data matching from data provided to the Data Central Lens proposal database to confirm the identity of ESO applicants. Applicants may opt out of providing data for Australian statistical purposes (including those from P101-P108 inclusive) by contacting [email protected].

What’s new in Period 109?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the expected changes in instrumentation offered and procedures for Period 109 given in Sec. 1.1 of the Call for Proposals. Among the items likely to be of most interest to the Australian community are:

Proposal anonymisation: The Dual-Anonymous Peer Review (DAPR) is now fully deployed, after being introduced successfully in Period 108. Applicants must formulate the scientific rationales of their proposals following these anonymisation rules and examples, which includes a detailed description of the DAPR paradigm. Failure to abide by the DAPR rules may lead to the disqualification of the proposal.

No Large Programme proposals accepted in P109: As a reminder, Large Programme proposals are only being accepted once per year during the Call for even-numbered Periods.

CRIRES availability: The upgraded CRIRES instrument has been successfully commissioned and is offered to the community with the spectroscopy mode covering the wavelength range 0.95–5.3 microns, with spectral resolving powers of 50,000 and 100,000, and in noAO and NGS modes. A set of two gas cells allows high-precision radial velocity measurements. Starting in P109, the following modes are available: classical spectroscopy, spectro-polarimetry, spectro-astrometry, differential tracking, and generic offsets.

MUSE + GALACSI guide stars: The extension of the limiting J-band magnitude for the GALACSI NFM Low Order Infrared Sensor reference star (tip-tilt star) to 18.5 mag was commissioned and is fully available. For a turbulence category of 10% and airmass less than 1.2 the limiting J-band magnitude is 19.0.

GRAVITY (astrometric measurements): ESO invites proposals with the goal of performing astrometric measurements, a capability which is still under development (see, e.g., 2017, A&A 602, A94 and The Messenger 170, 10). Proposers who wish to use the astrometric capability and contribute to its development are invited to consult the GRAVITY webpage and contact the astrometric team at least two weeks before the proposal submission deadline.

Survey Telescopes availability: Due to delays in the delivery of 4MOST, the end of VIRCAM operations has been further postponed, and VIRCAM is now offered for Period 109. A large fraction of VIRCAM time in P109 is devoted to allow the completion of the remaining ongoing ESO Public Surveys, as well as Large Programmes. However, a significant amount of VIRCAM observing time is available for normal programmes within the full range of atmospheric conditions. Particularly encouraged are open time proposals requesting any weather conditions (THIN and turbulence category 85% or 100%), and avoiding RA ranges  RA=0-2h, 4h, 7h-10h, as those are allocated with remaining public survey and large programme OBs. ESO observing time on the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) with OmegaCAM is no longer offered.

Visitor Mode: Although requests for Visitor Mode may be submitted for P109, any scheduled runs may need to be executed in Designated Visitor Mode instead if travel restrictions are still in place.

APEX: The ARTEMIS (350 μm and 450 μm), CONCERTO (130-310 GHz R=1-300 spectrometer), LAsMA (345 GHz 7-pixel array), nFLASH (200-270 GHz and 385-500 GHz), and SEPIA(159-211 GHz, 272-376 GHz, and 578-738 GHz) instruments are all offered in P109. Note that ESO does not plan to offer APEX time after Dec. 31, 2022, corresponding to the end of the current APEX agreement.

SOFI: SOFI is expected to be decommissioned in Period 110 for the installation and commissioning of SoXS, while EFOSC2 will be decommissioned once SoXS enters regular operations on the NTT, which is expected for Period 111.

Visitor Instruments: In P109, visitor instruments can be mounted at the VLT, NTT, and APEX telescopes, in order to permit innovative observations by teams with their stand-alone instruments, or to test new instrumental concepts for the development of new facility instruments. ESO also offers two foci in the VLTI laboratory to house interferometric instruments. At the VLT, the Nasmyth A focus of UT1 is available during Period 109. Proposers should keep in mind that the start of preparatory work for the arrival of MOONS limits the availability of the visitor focus during Period 110 and beyond. Interested users should contact [email protected].