Call for Proposals to be supported via the OPTICON Trans-National Access programme in semester 2016B.

Please note: This Call closed on 2 March at 23.59. This page is for information only.

The call for observing time at night time telescopes supported by the OPTICON Trans-National Access programme closed on 2 March at 23.59 UT.

The semester is centred on October 2016 to March 2017, but there are small variations at some telescopes to accommodate their normal semesters and maximise scheduling flexibility. Note that the present OPTICON contract finishes on 31 December 2016. Runs which cannot be scheduled before that date will not be supported unless the OPTICON consortium is awarded a new grant under Horizon 2020. A new grant proposal will be submitted in March 2016, but the outcome of this will not be known until the late summer. Therefore any projects which require time after 31 December are subject to the additional constraint of requiring a sucessful OPTICON Horizon 2020 proposal. Horizon 2020 is of course a competitive process and no such award is guaranteed. NB. Technical support for the submission software is not provided out-of-hours and late applications will not be accepted so please complete your application in plenty of time.

Proposals must meet certain EU and OPTICON rules for formal eligibility concerning team membership. Please pay attention to those rules or your proposal will be rejected without any scientific evaluation. The PI and at least half of the Co-Iʼs must be working at institutions from EU member states or EU associated countries but which are outside the country/ies which own the telescope. Specifically the applicable rules are in Annex III to the grant agreement, and the relevant clause is that the user group leader and the majority of the users must work in a institution established in a Member State or Associated State; the interpretation of 'majority' is 50% + 1 user, and the user group leader is of course a member of the user group.

Please also note the prohibition on projects which could be applied for by the PI using the national mechanisms open to them. If in doubt, contact the Project Scientist for clarification.

The maximum number of nights available at each facility is given in the table. It may be possible to move projects between telescopes to match scientific rating and demand. If your project can be done at more than one facility indicate in the technical case any alternate choices and note any technical issues such as changes in the time request which would result.

Nights available at each Facility in semester 2016B
Facility Maximum nights available Semester 2016B Notes
Isaac Newton Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 10 1 Aug - 31 Jan


William Herschel Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 6 1 Aug - 31 Jan Include required instrument configuration information in the technical case
Nordic Optical Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 20 1 Oct - 31 Mar Note that all 2016B applications to NOT from non-NOTSA astronomers must be made via OPTICON.

ALFOSC has new VPH grisms covering 350-980nm at R~1000. The peak efficiency is now 30-40% higher than the existing grisms. New (e2v CCD231-42) detectors with low-fringing and high red efficiency will be fitted to ALFOSC and FIES in the coming months. For ALFOSC with the new VPH grism efficiency at longer wavelengths will improve close to a factor 2, which combined with very low fringing effectively will open-up a new window for observing.

Liverpool Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 50 hours 1 July - 28 Feb Request in hours. Robotic Telescope. all six common user instruments available including new H band NIR imager IO:I.
Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (ORM, La Palma) 14 1 Sep - 28 Feb Can be service or visitor mode. Fractional nights can be requested in 1 hour blocks, assume 9hr per night.
Note: all 2016B applications to TNG from non-Italian astronomers must be made via OPTICON.

Note: GIANO will be unavailable due to engineering work during semester 2016B.

CAHA 2.2m (Calar Alto) 20 1 July - 31 Dec Any Common User Instrument or Moon Phase.
CAHA 3.5m (Calar Alto) 3 1 July - 31 Dec Any Common User Instrument or Moon Phase. CARMENES now available.
Anglo-Australian Telescope. (Siding Spring) 10 1 Aug - 31 Jan Instrument upgrades and commissioning are ongoing for multiple instruments; please refer to the AAO instrument status page for current status and availability. Note, the SAMI instrument, which has 13 integral-field units, is now available for general use. HERMES is unavailable from Aug to mid-Oct. Applications must include a 50% weather overhead.
Observatoire de Haut Provence 1.93m 15 1 Sep - 28 Feb Note that all 2016B applications to OHP from non-French astronomers must be made via OPTICON and not via the national French process
Telescope Bernard Lyot (Pic du Midi) 7 1 Sep - 28 Feb Note that all 2016B applications to TBL from non-French astronomers must be made via OPTICON and not via the national French process
Canada France Hawaii Telescope (Mauna Kea) 5 1 Aug - 31 Jan Service mode. Please pay particular attention to overheads. MegaCam delivers 5.5hrs/night, WIRCAM 6hr/night, Espadons 7.5 hrs/night and SITELLE 6.5 hours per night. Useful information on heavily subscribed RA ranges and other scheduling factors etc can be found here.
MPG/ESO 2.2 (La Silla) 10 1 Oct - 30 Mar OPTICON proposals for FEROS and WIFI instruments only. GROND is not available for OPTICON proposals.
Carlos Sanchez Telescope (Obs del Teide, Tenerife) 7 1 Sep - 28 Feb  
Aristarchos (Mount Helmos, Greece) 12 1 Jul - 31 Dec The direct imaging CCD camera will be available for this call. Since the winter weather conditions may be extreme access to the site might not be possible in December 2016.


You can see details of the types of instruments likely to be available at these and other telescopes by following this link to the Medium Telescopes Instrumentation Suite. Unless noted above, any instrument available to national users of an observatory may be requested. Please consult each observatory web-page for instrument details and policies.

Requests for multiple telescopes for the same scientific project must be included in a single proposal form. Request for projects with different scientific objectives should be made on separate proposal forms.

Please do not request long term status. Individual telescopes commit time to the observing pool on a semester by semester basis. We cannot assign 'long term' status as the TAC do not know for certain if sufficient nights on your telescope of choice will be available in future semesters. So please make a single semester proposal and make a note in the text that you will be re-applying in the future with a similar project.

Since the OPTICON Trans-National Access programme is limited by the EC funds available, it is possible that not all of these nights will be allocated at every facility.

Projects must be scientifically competitive and will be ranked based on scientific merit and technical feasibility by a special OPTICON international time allocation committee. OPTICON will attempt to schedule nights allocated by this committee subject to practical constraints on telescope and instrument availability. Due regard will be given to EC criteria regarding new users and users without similar national infrastructures. The oversubscription factor varies considerably between facilities and semesters but, as a guide, on average ~33% of proposals in recent rounds have been awarded time.

Successful proposers will receive travel funds as necessary for them to take up the observing time. This will normally be for a single observer. If travel support for more than one observer is required it will be necessary to get confirmation from the project office. Please also see the section on Trans-National Access on our Rules for Travel page. Attention is drawn to a new OPTICON initiative for widening experience of observing techniques, the La Caille Scheme. Successful proposers will be invited, but are not required, to assist with this scheme (La Caille webpage).

For downstream processing by the individual observatories, successful proposers may be required to complete and submit either Phase 1 (application forms) or Phase 2 (detailed observing request) forms. In this situation the science case will not be re-evaluated but the forms will be used to extract practical information required for the observatory proposal reporting and scheduling databases.

Facilities not in this list are not offering OPTICON supported observing in this semester, even though they may have done so in the past and may do in the future. Some facilities have policies which allow international users to apply via their regular national proposal process or to specific international time which is not part of the OPTICON pool. Proposals made to and approved via non-OPTICON mechanisms will not qualify for OPTICON travel grant support. Note that the results of the OPTICON TAC review will be communicated to the national TACs to avoid undesirable duplication.

In the case of linked proposals (for example using national time to prepare for or follow-up an OPTICON-supported run) or where the OPTICON time available is insufficient for the project to be accomplished, please indicate your intention to make a linked application and explain why this is necessary.

The proposal software, an OPTICON variant of the NORTHSTAR system already in use at several observatories, is available at the following url: You are required to register for account (only minimal information is required) and you can then create, share and complete your proposal on-line. Note that each Northstar system is unique, you cannot use a Northstar account created for another TAC process (e.g. a RADIONET account). The form has a 'read me first' section of general information and number of built in help pages. The sample 'case for support' tex file contains a summary of what information is suggested for the scientific case. Large target lists can be uploaded as a suitably formatted file. In the case of large projects, or those with a large list of possible targets from which only a subset will be observed, upload only a sample of representative targets.

For general questions about the call, registering with NORTHSTAR and policies, rules and procedures look in our FAQ page (link also from Footer below) and if this does not help you then contact

For specific practical information about telescopes/instruments, please contact the telescope directly.