Applying for ESO observing time

Proposals for observing time on ESO telescopes are currently CLOSED. For reference purposes, the most recent Call for Proposals information is provided below. The Call for Proposals for Period 109 (for observations between 1 April and 30 Sep 2022) is expected to be issued in early-Sep 2021, with a proposal deadline around the end of Sep 2021.

Note that following the suspension of the regular Call for Proposals for ESO Period 107 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ESO has issued a Special Call for the submission of projects consisting of novel and urgent observations that must be executed during P107 (1 April  – 30 September 2021). Applicants may submit proposals any time throughout the Period for observations that must be carried out during P107.

Proposal deadline

Thursday 25 March 2021 at noon Central European Time (10pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time, 7pm Australian Western Standard Time).

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released the Call for Proposals for Period 108 (for observations between 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022).

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);

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

  • VLT Survey Telescope (VST).

Proposals for ESO time (in August, Oct and Dec 2021) 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.

The proposal deadline is Thursday 25 March 2021 at noon Central European Time (10pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time, 7pm Australian Western Standard Time).

Complete details on how to apply can be found at the P108 Call for Proposals web page. All applicants should consult the Call for Proposals document for Period 108, 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].


What’s new in Period 108?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the expected changes in instrumentation offered and procedures for Period 108 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 the successful dry run in Period 106. 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.

New Large Programme proposals accepted in P108: Since Period 104, Large Programme proposals are only being accepted once per year during even Periods. Large Programmes can be requested to start either in P108 or in P109, but the programme can extend at most over four consecutive semesters (currently up to Period 111). Due to the preparations to offer SOXS at the NTT in the near future, Large Programme proposals will be accepted for SOFI during Period 108 only and for EFOSC2 only for Periods 108 through 110.

CRIRES availability: The upgraded CRIRES instrument is offered with the spectroscopy mode covering the wavelength range 0.95–5.3μm, with spectral resolving powers of 50,000 and 100,000, and in non-AO and NGS modes only. A set of two gas cells allows high-precision radial velocity measurements.

Updating of ESO User Portal Profiles: ESO is again requesting all science users provide more detailed information in their User Portal profile, including gender, year of PhD, ORCID and a series of keywords for specifying scientific and technical expertise. Users failing to do this will not be able to submit a proposal as PI and/or as CoI in P108.

Rapid Response Mode (RRM) activation policy: The RRM policy changed starting in Period 105: on-going observations on any VLT instrument can be interrupted by an RRM triggered on that specific UT, even if the trigger requires a change of focus, unless the relevant programme is specifically protected against an RRM trigger (in case of strictly time-critical programmes). The change will be operational by the start of Period 108 at UT1 and UT2, and may be ready at UT3 for the start of the Period. It is expected to be operational at UT4 later during Period 108.

Survey Telescopes availability: Period 108 is expected to be the last Period of VIRCAM operations before the start of the modifications required at VISTA for the installation of 4MOST. Only Normal Programme proposals are accepted in Period 108 for this instrument, without restrictions on atmospheric conditions, lunar phase or RA range. Period 108 is the last Period for which the operation of VST is guaranteed under the current agreement between ESO and INAF. Normal and Large Programme proposals are accepted for OmegaCAM in Period 108 without restrictions on atmospheric conditions, lunar phase or RA range, with the understanding that Large Programmes can only run for a maximum of one Period.

Special Call for Period 107: Following the suspension of the regular Call for Proposals for ESO Period 107 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ESO is issuing a Special Call (hereafter SC107) for the submission of projects consisting of novel and urgent observations that must be executed during P107 (1 April  – 30 September 2021). The spirit of SC107 is to offer ESO’s community the opportunity to take the lead (or to maintain its leadership) on new, important scientific cases, without having to miss out on them because of the pandemic. SC107 will be open as of 1 April 2021, and users will be able to submit proposals any time throughout the Period for observations that must be carried out during P107.

Visitor Mode: Although requests for Visitor Mode may be submitted for P108, 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), 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 P108. Note that ESO does not plan to offer APEX time beyond Period 110, corresponding to the end of the current APEX agreement.