Call for Proposals to be supported via the OPTICON Horizon 2020 Trans-National Access programme in semester 2017A.

This call has now closed. This page is for information only. The 2017A Common Time Allocation Commitee met on November 9th. The process was oversubscribed by a factor of 5. Formal feedback will be distributed via Northstar in the next few weeks but PIs whose proposals have been accepted for scheduling have already been informed via a direct e-mail from the Project scientist.


The OPTICON Horizon 2020 proposal has passed the evaluation stage and the proposal is now in the grant preparation phase. Contract signature is expected before the end of November. Subject to contract signature we will continue to run the TNA process as usual. The call for observing time at night time telescopes supported by the OPTICON Trans-National Access programme will close on 25 September 2016 at 23.59UT exactly. This call is shorter than usual due to the date of the contract announcement.

The semester is centred on April 2017 to October 2017, but there are small variations at some telescopes to accommodate their normal semesters and maximise scheduling flexibility. 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 2017A
Facility Maximum nights available Semester 2017A Notes
Isaac Newton Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 10 1 Feb - 31 July

Include required instrument configuration information in the technical case. Given the ongoing changes in the instrument suite at ING please check this page:

William Herschel Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 6 1 Feb - 31 July Include required instrument configuration information in the technical case. Wide-field imaging is now available at the WHT via visiting instrument PAUCam. Given the ongoing changes in the instrument suite at ING please check this page:
Nordic Optical Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 25 1 Apr - 30 Sep

Note that all 2017A applications to NOT from non-NOTSA astronomers must be made through OPTICON.

A new fibre bundle is planned to be installed on the high-resolution FIbre-fed Echelle Spectrograph (FIES) before the start of semester 2017A. With this new bundle, we expect the radial-velocity stability with the high-resolution fiber to improve from 8-10 m/s to ~3 m/s. The overall efficiency is expected to remain the same.
A new (e2v CCD231-42) detector with low-fringing and high red efficiency has been installed on ALFOSC, and a similar CCD will be installed in FIES in September.

Liverpool Telescope (ORM, La Palma) 50 hours 1 Jan - 31 Aug Request in hours. Robotic Telescope. All seven common user instruments available including new near-ultraviolet spectrograph LOTUS.
Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (ORM, La Palma) 14 1 Apr - 30 Sep Giano is offered on a shared risk/best efforts basis as GianoB, with an optical relay instead of a fibre connection which improves throughput and radial velocity precision. Can be service or visitor mode. Fractional nights can be requested in 1 hour blocks, assume 9hr per night.
Note: all 2017A applications to TNG from non-Italian astronomers must be made via OPTICON.


CAHA 2.2m (Calar Alto) 20 1 Jan - 30 June Any Common User Instrument or Moon Phase.

PlanetCam: the two-channel (0.38-1.7microns) lucky imaging camera, is available through a collaboration with the Group of Planetary Sciences of the University of the Basque Country (link to GPC here). Potential applicants please contact Prof. Agustín Sánchez-Lavega

CAHA 3.5m (Calar Alto) 10 1 Jan - 30 June PMAS and CARMENES are available.
Proposals applying for CARMENES should consider that the main science case of the CARMENES Guaranteed Time Observations is the detection, follow-up and characterization of planets around M dwarfs with radial velocities. The agreement between CAHA and the CARMENES consortium protects this science case. Principal investigators of proposals which might overlap with this science case are encouraged to contact the CARMENES consortium for collaboration.
Anglo-Australian Telescope. (Siding Spring) 10 1 Feb - 31 July

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. Applications must include a 50% weather overhead.

Observatoire de Haut Provence 1.93m 10 1 Mar - 31 Aug Note that all 2017A applications to OHP from non-French astronomers must be made via OPTICON and not via the national French process
Observatoire de Haut Provence 1.2m 8 1 Mar - 31 Aug ANDOR 2048 x 2048 optical CCD. Field 13.1' x 13.1'
Telescope Bernard Lyot (Pic du Midi) 7 1 Mar - 31 Aug Note that all 2017A 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) 4 1 Feb - 31 July Service mode. Please pay particular attention to overheads. MegaCam delivers 5.5hrs/night, WIRCAM 5hr/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 Apr - 30 Sep OPTICON proposals for FEROS and WIFI instruments only. GROND is not available for OPTICON proposals.
Carlos Sanchez Telescope (Obs del Teide, Tenerife) 14 1 Mar - 31 Aug

Notes: Visitor, service or remote oberving modes available.

CAIN (IR Camera), FASTCAM (lucky imaging in the optical) and WIDE FASTCAM (8x8 arcmin FoV). Remote observing now possible.

Aristarchos Telescope (Helmos Observatory, Greece) 12 1 Jan - 31 Mar The direct imaging CCD camera will be available for this call.


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.

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.

Note: OPTICON is supported by the EC Grant number 312430 and the Horizon 2020 programme.