Call for Proposals: UC time on the Keck telescopes

Semester 2019A
(February 1, 2019 through July 31, 2019)

Deadline: Proposals are due on Monday, September 24th, 2018 by 5:00 pm PST

Please read these guidelines carefully, as several things have changed since last semester.
1.0 General Considerations.

1.1 Due Date and Proposal Process
Proposals for UC observing time on the Keck Telescopes for Semester 2019A are due by 5:00 pm PST on Monday, September 24th, 2018.

The principal consideration in evaluating proposals will be the scientific merit of the proposed project. Projects that take maximum advantage of the unique capabilities of the Keck Telescopes will be given high weight. A brief description should be given of backup programs that will be carried out if conditions are not suitable for the primary program. Please see urces/observers/keck-instructions.html for the UC online proposal submission process.

For Semester 2019A, we expect a total of abo24thut 60 UC nights on Keck I and about 57 UC nights on Keck II. Keck is continuing the login-password system to allow you to retrieve and modify your coversheets. Returning observers should use the same account information as last semester. New observers may request an account from the login page

The coversheet form is available through the login page link above. Once you have created a coversheet and you are logged in, please go to the instructions for submitting Keck proposals at: to create the rest of your proposal as a PDF file to upload to the UC proposal server. Note that the coversheet has been modified again this semester, so please pay close attention when filling it out.

1.2 Time Domain Astronomy (TDA)
Observers will continue to have the ability to propose both Target of Opportunity (ToO) and Cadence programs using the Keck Cover Sheet. Keck policies related to Target of Opportunity (ToO) and Cadence proposals can be found at Too Policies and Cadence Policies. Please read these carefully as there are some changes from last semester. For Semester 2019A, proposals for ToO time and Cadence time will be handled separately.

For Semester 2019A, four Keck partners (UC, Caltech, UH, and NASA) have agreed that TAC- approved ToO (TDA) projects will be able to interrupt observers at any of the four institutions, to increase the utility of the ToO process. These are called Partnership ToO proposals. There is a limit of six Partnership ToO (6) interrupts per partner for 2019A. Note that there is not a limit to the number of ToO interrupts of fellow UC observers. But because UC nights are only a fraction of the total available Keck nights, the probability of a successful ToO interrupt using UC time alone is smaller than for Partnership ToOs.

Keck’s new policies for Cadence observations
( are reasonably complicated. If you are contemplating applying for Cadence time, please read them carefully. There will be a limit of six “Partnership Snapshot” observations per semester (less than or equal to one hour each).

We continue to reconcile cross-institutional cadence and ToO allocations. Scheduled cadence time is returned at a one to one rate, and ToO time is returned at a rate of two hours for every one hour interruption because the ToO PI will not choose to call for a trigger if the weather is unacceptable.

Please note that the Cadence observing policies now include Twilight Cadence Observing. Each institution may allocate one twilight cadence observing program per semester. See the Keck Cadence guidelines for details.

If your project involves both Classical and TDA observing, you MUST submit two separate cover sheets so that the Keck TDA software can clearly distinguish between the two. Instead of submitting the same text twice, please submit the actual proposal text under the Classical cover sheet; the text submitted under the TDA (ToO or Cadence) cover sheet should merely include the proposal title, PI, and proposal number, together with a sentence stating that the main text can be found under the proposal number of the Classical cover sheet. The Cover Sheet form will not let you submit one proposal requesting both Classical and TDA observing time.

1.3 Changes to the Technical Remarks Section
Changes made to the Technical Remarks section in 2018B will be continued in semester 2019A. These now include page limits and a brief optional, but recommended, section describing your activities in the service of UCO. These changes are described at:

1.4 Large Multi-Year Projects
Large Multi-Year Project (LMAP) programs are UC observing projects with well-defined scientific objectives that require a large number of nights to bring to completion (normally 10 or more nights per semester). The UC LMAP program allows projects extending for more than one semester to be carried out with multi-year approval from the beginning. LMAPs should generally be directed toward obtaining a high quality, coherent, homogeneous data set that will allow scientific questions of major importance to be addressed in a thorough, systematic manner. Please consult for current policies regarding LMAPs.

2.0 Notes on Instruments and Availability

Please see the following web page for detailed notes on the availability of current instruments for 2019A: Instrument descriptions are at

There is a one week shutdown on Keck 1 planned for repairs to be made on the azimuth journal, and it is tentatively scheduled for the mid-month June bright time.

Several AO upgrade projects will be occurring through the semester that will require short periods of AO downtime. These will generally be scheduled during timeframes of low AO demand during the semester.

Here is a quick summary of instruments that will be available:

Instruments available on Keck I for Semester 2019A are:
HIRESb (blue x-disperser), HIRESr (red x-disperser), LRIS-ADC (red and blue, with ADC),

Instruments available on Keck II for Semester 2019A are:
DEIMOS, ESI, ESIi (ESI with the Integral Field Unit), KCWI, NIRSPEC (without AO),
NIRSPAO-NGS (NIRSPEC with Natural Guide Star AO, see restrictions below), NIRSPAO-
LGS (NIRSPEC with Laser Guide Star AO; see restrictions below), NIRC2-NGS, NIRC2-LGS
(note NIRC2-NGS/LGS is available with use of the vector vortex coronagraph), NIRES.

Subaru and Keck will continue their exchange of nights as in past semesters, with the number of exchange nights being determined by the demand of both institutions. You will find further details below.

3.0 Notes on Specific Instruments

There is a one week shutdown on Keck 1 planned in June for repairs to be made on the azimuth journal, and is tentatively scheduled for the mid-month June bright time.

NIRSPEC: Nirspec (Nirspao) will be unavailable in February & March to complete follow up work to the instrument upgrade.

NIRC2 will be unavailable for 3-5 weeks for a vector vortex coronagraph upgrade. This period of downtime will be scheduled to meet the scientific demands of the observing community and may begin in late March.

Several AO upgrade projects will be occurring through the semester that will require short periods of AO downtime. These will generally be scheduled during timeframes of low AO demand during the semester.

Time Domain Astronomy: Observers will continue to have the ability to propose both cadence and ToO programs using the cover sheet. Updated policies for 2019 related to Target of Opportunity or Cadence proposals can be found at: and

These policies are not applicable to Subaru Exchange time. For Semester 2019A, four Keck partners (UC, Caltech, UH, and NASA) have agreed that TAC-approved ToO (TDA) projects will be able to interrupt observers at any of the four Institutions, to increase the utility of the ToO process.

SUBARU Time Exchange:

COMICS, FOCAS, HDS, Hyper Supreme-Cam, IRCS (with NGS/LGSAO with 188 elements), MOIRCS, CHARIS, SCExAO and IRD (shared risk) will be available. Please check the Subaru web site for detailed descriptions of these instruments, and the web site for instrument restrictions, particularly for visiting (PI-type) instruments SCExAO/CHARIS/IRD, and for filter availability of HSC. Note that FOCAS Integral Field Unit (IFU) mode will be available in the latter half of Semester 2019A in a shared-risk mode. The SUBARU-KECK exchange will continue to have flexibility with regard to the number of nights available for exchange. The number of nights exchanged will be determined based on the demand from each community. Neither Keck nor Subaru will support Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations during the exchanged nights, and Keck's internal TDA policies do not apply.

Observations will be executed in "classical" observing mode. Subaru may support half night allocations, but whole night allocations are preferred. For HSC programs, Subaru may support "queue" observing mode, if specified in the proposal. Although this mode is in shared-risk for Keck users in 2019A (Subaru will try their best but cannot guarantee the completion or provide any compensation), queue-mode may allow more flexible allocation such as e.g. very short 0.25- night requests.

Please check the HSC queue mode website for more details. Finally, as earthquakes have been frequently occurring every day since May 2018, so there is always a risk of unavailability of Top Unit Exchange work throughout the semester for the sake of equipment and workers’ safety.

LGS-AO: A detailed set of guidelines for LGS-AO nights and information on the capabilities of the systems may be found on the LGS-AO page: Backup programs for LGS proposals are essential. Backup programs for LGS on Keck II may be either NGS programs or NIRES. On Keck I, either NGS-OSIRIS and non-AO HIRES may serve as a backup.

NIRSPAO is scheduled in campaign mode given limited demand for this configuration. If there are insufficient requests for its use, NIRSPAO may not be scheduled in a given semester. NIRSPAO will be unavailable in February and March.

KOA (Keck Observatory Archive): Data from all instruments will be archived in the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA). The default proprietary period for all data is 18 months. If observers desire a different proprietary period they may request this through the Keck coversheet. Please see the KOA homepage: for information on the archive, as well as for information on the KOA proprietary period policy.

Sincerely yours,

Claire Max
Director, University of California Observatories
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064