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OPTICON-supported Observing time in 2010B

1600 GMT 28 January 2010

A major change in the application procedure for OPTICON support has been announced, amounting to the creation of a new common OPTICON Time Allocation Committee (TAC), to be accessed via a new web-based proposal tool. To follow is full details, based on official notices by Dr John K Davies, OPTICON Project Scientist:

"OPTICON, a European commission project supported under the 7th framework programme, operates trans-national access programme providing access to a suite of European medium sized night time telescopes. From next semester, i.e. observing time starting from autumn 2010, the OPTICON transnational access programme for night-time telescopes will undergo a major change. It is important that you are aware of this if you plan to apply for EC supported time in the future.

"In previous years users were invited to apply via normal national TACs and OPTICON support was granted retrospectively to qualifying observing teams. For the rest of FP7 there will be a completely new process based around a special OPTICON TAC. This committee will allocate EC supported time across the OPTICON night-time telescope network. Participating telescopes will offer a number of nights to the OPTICON pool. These facilities, and the maximum number of nights likely to be available at each, are publicised in the call for proposals. Applications for observing during 2010B will be made via a web-based proposal tool based on the NORTHSTAR system. Proposals will be ranked by scientific merit and the ranked list will be allocated based on scientific merit and operational constraints (including the available budget). As in the past, proposers supported under the scheme will be granted funds to travel to the telescopes to take up their observing time. The normal rules regarding nationality of the proposal teams will still apply. These rules can be found via the OPTICON pages.

"Within the OPTICON contract under FP7, its TransNational Access programme will move towards even greater integration and coordination of the participating telescopes. As part of this move, the funding for the programme will be pooled, and the proposals for OPTICON time at all the telescopes will be reviewed by a single international TAC to ensure network-wide competition and uniform review criteria.

"Note that some of these facilities in the programme have policies which allow non-national users to apply via their normal TACs or to special wider international calls. You are of course welcome to use these opportunities if you wish. However please note that proposals via such TACs will be treated according to the appropriate national rules but will not qualify for OPTICON support.

"The call for observing time at night-time telescopes supported by the OPTICON ransnational Access is now open with a deadline of 1200UT on 1st March 2010. The semester runs from 1st September 2010 to 28th February 2011 inclusive.

The link is http://www.astro-opticon.org/fp7/tna/opticon_call.html.

"Although NORTHSTAR is well developed software, the OPTICON module is a new package built specially for this programme and you are encouraged to register and try out this software early in case of unexpected problems. If you would like an early preview of the software and are willing to beta-test it, please mail jkd-at-roe.ac.uk and you will be sent details of the url to use.

"Please share this information with your colleagues. If you have any questions about this new scheme, please mail the OPTICON Project Scientist, John Davies at jkd-at-roe.ac.uk"