NSF's NOIRLab Call for Standard Proposals: Semester 2023A


This Call for Proposals 2023A (CfP23A) covers the observing time period from 1 February 2023 – 31 July 2023. 

Proposal Deadline: 30 September 2022 at 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time (MST): note that this is a Friday evening in the US.

1. General Information on NSF's NOIRLab Observing Proposals 

Proposals for standard observing programs at all ground-based facilities coordinated by the NSF's NOIRLab, which include US time on the telescopes of Gemini, CTIO (including SMARTS and SOAR), and KPNO (WIYN), as well as community-access time with other observatories (which for 2023A include Magellan, CHARA, Keck, Las Cumbras Observatory (LCO), and MINERA-Australis), can be submitted twice per year. For the 2023A semester, the deadline is:

Standard Programs: Deadline is 30 September 2022 at 11:59pm Mountain Standard Time (=Tucson time)  for the 1 February 2023 – 31 July 2023 observing period (2023A).
This Call is for Standard Observing proposals only.  More details about the process of submitting observing proposals to NOIRLab can be found at:
This Call for Proposals document is focused on updates and news specific to semester 2023A.

 - Update: Dual Anonymous 2-stage Review

Semester 2023A continues the Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP), which began last semester in 2022B, for all observing proposals submitted to NOIRLab (including proposals submitted for time on the Gemini telescopes).  This process requires that certain text sections of observing proposals must be anonymous, with these anonymous sections being:

- Abstract
- Science Justification
- Experimental Design
- Technical Design
In the second stage of the process, additional non-anonymized information relevant to the proposal will be revealed to the review panel in order to obtain a final ranking.
Compliance with this policy is mandatory.  Proposers, please take sufficient time to prepare your anonymous manuscript, especially if you are going to resubmit a proposal from a previous semester.
Detailed anonymization instructions for PIs can be found at  https://noirlab.edu/science/observing-noirlab/proposals/anonymization-instructions .
A short summary of points on anonymizing are listed below:

1. Do not claim ownership of past work, e.g., "my previously funded work..." or "Our prior analysis demonstrates that…”

2. Do not include the names of the personnel associated with the proposal or their organizational affiliations. This includes but is not limited to, page headers, footers, diagrams, figures, or watermarks. This does not include references to past work, which should be included whenever relevant (see below). 

3. Referencing is an essential part of demonstrating knowledge of the field and progress. When citing references within the proposal, use third person neutral wording.  Do not refer to previous observing campaigns or other observatories in an identifying fashion. 

4. If it is important to cite exclusive access datasets, non-public software, unpublished data, or findings that have been presented in public before but are not cite-able, proposers must use language such as "obtained in private communication" or "from private consultation" when referring to such potentially identifying work.

5. Do not include any acknowledgments, or the source of any grant funding.

In addition, the NOIRLab TAC staff will be hosting a virtual webinar to discuss this new requirement and provide time for Q&A. The 30 minute session will be on Thursday, September 8 at 11:30am MST  (Arizona does not observe Daylight time, so this is at 2:30pm EDT) and will  be recorded and posted for future reference. Please register at the link below to attend the live session:

- Update: COVID-19 and the Contreras Fire

COVID-19 may continue to affect operations at some observatories, as the situation continues to evolve and projections into 2023A (1 February - 31 July 2023) are uncertain.  Different observatory sites may have different COVID-19 protocols, so proposers should remain aware of the situation.
In addition, there are continued effects on Kitt Peak from the Contreras wildfire, such as road access to the summit, that may continue into 2023.
These situations will be monitored at NOIRLab and we will notify the community of any significant updates.

- Standard Proposals Requesting Long Term Status

NOIRLab will accept proposals for scientific programs that extend beyond a single semester. Long-term status may be granted to a proposal for which the principal science goal of the proposal cannot be achieved without the full allocation of time. An investigator who wishes to request long-term status should include a summary of the request (e.g., "six nights per semester for three semesters") in the appropriate section of the proposal form. Long-term status is limited to three semesters.

If long-term status is granted, a progress report must be submitted each subsequent semester to inform the TAC that appropriate progress is being made. Progress reports should briefly summarize the scientific justification, provide a detailed discussion of progress to date, restate the number of observing runs still needed to complete the project, and give details needed for scheduling the proposal in the next semester.

Although the granting of long-term status by the TAC does carry with it a commitment for observing time in future semesters, NOIRLab reserves the right to terminate long-term status on the advice of the TAC if insufficient information concerning the progress of the project has been supplied by the Principal Investigator or in the event of telescope closures.

- Questions

Questions concerning NOIRLab proposals can be directed to:
  • Alfredo Zenteno, NSF's NOIRLab CSDC/TAC Program Head (alfredo.zenteno@noirlab.edu)
  • also, please cc - Verne V. Smith (verne.smith@noirlab.edu)

2. Instructions for Submitting Semester 2023A Proposals

The 2023A Call for Proposals covers proposals for observing programs at all ground-based facilities on which the NSF NOIRLab manages open-access observing time.  Information about the newly launched NOIRLab proposal process can be found at:
https://time-allocation.noirlab.edu/#/  -  (Contact proposal-help@noirlab.edu if you have trouble during login, signup or proposal submission. **note** Proposal copying from semesters prior to 2022A is currently unavailable)
Instructions for preparing and submitting an NSF NOIRLAB standard proposal can be found at:
An NSF NOIRLab proposal MUST be prepared and submitted via the web-based submission process, using the format as provided by a LaTeX or Word template. Please note that proposal copying from semesters prior to 2022A is currently unavailable, and manual transposition may be required.
Gemini Proposal Investigators who are applying for time on the Gemini telescopes must use Gemini Observatory's Phase I Tool (PIT) to prepare their observing proposals. The PIT is available from the Gemini Observatory at: 


Classical observers using US time  should be prepared to fund their own travel for their observing trips.  The NSF NOIRLab will support graduate students traveling for observations that are part of their PhD thesis work.  To be eligible for NOIRLab funding for thesis observing, the thesis advisor must complete and submit the form found at:

3. News and Updates for Semester 2023A

The following updates to instrumentation and or observing time at all facilities available through the NSF NOIRLab are noted here to alert investigators preparing proposals.  
We note that this semester marks the beginning of open access nights to Magellan (see 3.2), while nights continue to be available on Keck (see 3.3), CHARA (see 3.5), and LCO (see 3.6).  The NN-EXPLORE (NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research) program also continues on WIYN, the CT-1.5m/CHIRON, and MINERVA-Australis (see 3.4).  Another new opportunity is for joint JWST/Gemini proposals in conjunction with JWST Cycle 2 (see 3.12), while JWST  has been added to the NSF's NOIRLab - NASA Space Observatories collaboration (see 3.11).

3.1 Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP) Continues in 2023A

As noted in Section 1 above, a Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP) is now used for all observing proposals submitted to NOIRLab (including proposals submitted for time on the Gemini telescopes).  This process requires that the abstract, science justification, and experimental and technical design sections in all observing proposals must be anonymized.  In the second stage of the process, additional non-anonymized information relevant to the proposal will be revealed to the review panel in order to obtain a final ranking

Detailed anonymization instructions for PIs can be found at  https://noirlab.edu/science/observing-noirlab/proposals/anonymization-instructions , while a document of FAQ can also be found at
In addition, the NOIRLab TAC staff will be hosting a virtual webinar to discuss this new requirement and provide time for Q&A. The 30 minute session will be on Thursday, September 8 at 11:30am Mountain Standard Time   (=2:30pm Eastern Daylight Time) and will  be recorded and posted for future reference. Please register at the link below to attend the live session:


3.2 New--Magellan Observing Time in 2023A

Through the NSF's Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP), observing time for the NOIRLab community is available on the Magellan I and II telescopes (Baade and Clay, respectively) beginning in semester 2023A and continuing through 2028A.  The time available for 2023A is 5 nights.

General information about the telescopes and instruments can be found at:     https://obs.carnegiescience.edu/astronomers

The telescope and instrument combinations available in this Call are:

Baade (Magellan I)

- IMACS: a versatile wide-field imager and multi-object spectrograph  

- FourStar: a wide-field near-infrared camera

- FIRE: a moderate resolution near-infrared echelette spectrograph

- MagE: a moderate resolution optical echelette spectrograph

Clay (Magellan II)

- MIKE: a high-throughput double echelle spectrograph

- LDSS: a high-efficiency, wide field multislit spectrograph

3.3 Keck I and Keck II Observing Time Continues in 2023A

Through the NSF's Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP), NOIRLab observing time on Keck I and Keck II will be available through semester 2025A.   In 2022B, 2 nights on Keck I and 3 nights on Keck II are available.  
Note that all proposers for Keck time must submit a Proposal Cover Sheet Form to Keck (Yes, this means you). 
The cover sheet can be found at   https://www2.keck.hawaii.edu/inst/PILogin/login.php . 
You must have a Keck Observer account to submit this form to Keck; if you do not have an Observer account, you can create one on the above link.  If you have forgotten your login name and password, help is available at the login page.  From your Keck homepage you can view your upcoming telescope runs, view your previous semesters' coversheets, create or modify coversheets for the upcoming semester, view and modify your contact information and profile.  Additional information on proposing for Keck time can be found at https://www2.keck.hawaii.edu/observing/apply.html
Instrument availability, along with all relevant information, can be found at:
Special Notes and Consideration for 2023A:

Keck I Telescope:  There will be a 10 night shutdown occurring in late April bright time in order to conduct repair work on the Keck I telescope pier. 

 KCWI:  KCWI, with the red channel upgrade, KCRM, is expected to return to service in the May/June timeframe.  Given the uncertainty in the commissioning schedule, updated availability information will be provided in October for TAC meetings and telescope scheduling. 

 KPF: Keck Planet Finder, a new PRV instrument on Keck I, is currently undergoing installation at the Observatory and is expected to become available for shared-risk use in the middle of the 23A semester.  Updated availability information will be provided in October for TAC meetings and telescope scheduling.  Documentation of KPF basic specifications will be made available and linked on the ‘Instruments Available’ webpage within the next two weeks. 

 NIRSPEC/NIRSPAO:  Nirspec/Nirspao will be unavailable for 4 weeks in February for routine servicing to remove ice from the dewar window.  Please also note that Nirspec and Nirspao nights may be scheduled in campaign mode to limit the number of reconfigs into AO during the semester.

 KPIC: KPIC is not a fully commissioned instrument and is only available for shared-risk science in 23A in collaboration with and supported by the KPIC team.


-          The vortex coronagraph in LGS mode is not available.

-          The vortex coronagraph with the PyWFS is not available.

 Please, see the NIRC2 manual (https://www2.keck.hawaii.edu/inst/nirc2/ObserversManual.html#Section5.2.2) for information about vortex operations.

  At-Home (pajama mode) Observing: 

-          At-home observing will continue to be available to observers

-          At-home observing requires the installation of software which only runs on linux and macOS operating systems. 

-          Observers using at home observing should plan to work with Keck staff to install and test the software several days ahead of their run to allow time for troubleshooting.

 Twilight Cadence Observing:  In 2023A, institutions will continue to be able to allocate one twilight observing program per telescope, for a total of up to two programs.  On Keck I, OSIRIS-NGS (imager only) will be available, and on Keck II, NIRC2-NGS will be available.  Please note that due to ongoing AO upgrades, there may be times in the semester when AO is unavailable for cadence observations. Cadence program PIs are responsible for development of instrument scripts, providing documentation, and training of staff needed to make the cadence program a turnkey operation.

SUBARU exchange:  The SUBARU-KECK exchange will continue as in previous semesters with flexibility as to the number of nights available for exchange. The number of exchanged nights will be determined based on the demand from each community.  Keck will offer LRIS, HIRES, OSIRIS, and MOSFIRE on Keck I, and DEIMOS, ESI, NIRSPEC/NIRSPAO, NIRES, and NIRC2 on Keck II.   Subaru will offer facility instruments Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), HDS, IRCS (with NGSAO only, see below), MOIRCS, and FOCAS, as well as visiting instruments IRD,  CHARIS + SCExAO, VAMPIRES, REACH, Fast PDI, MEC, and NsIR.  Note that PIs must contact the instrument PI for visiting instruments in advance.  Subaru may support half night allocations, but whole night allocations are preferred.   Queue observing is the default observing mode for HSC; applicants who desire classical mode must justify their request. Please check the HSC queue mode website https://www.naoj.org/Observing/queue/index.html for more details.   

 Notes regarding Subaru facility and instrument availability in 23A:

- There will be 1-3 days downtime due to the scheduled maintenance work of the electrical system and the dome. The dates for downtime will be announced later.

- MOIRCS will be back online in 2023A with the shared-risk policy. SWIMS completed science operation at Subaru in S22B, and is not available any more.

- There will be 4 HSC runs in S23A at maximum from March to June. Note that some filters require permission from the PI of the filters. Please check the HSC website for details.

- New LGS+AO188 mode will be available with shared-risk status

- The following PI-type (visiting) instruments are available in S23A.

Please be reminded that proposals requesting PI-type instruments/devices must include the relevant PIs as Co-I of the proposal (see https://www.naoj.org/Observing/Instruments/index.html).

- CHARIS with SCExAO+AO188 (including spectro-polarimetric mode)

- Fast PDI with SCExAO+AO188 (in a shared-risk mode)

- IRD with AO188 (in a shared-risk mode)

- MEC with SCExAO+AO188 (in a shared-risk mode)

- REACH (combination of SCExAO and IRD for single-mode fiber spectroscopy)


- NsIR Wave Plate Unit (a visiting device for IRCS/SCExAO polarimetry mode)

- REACH can be used simultaneously with CHARIS with any dispersion modes, but the wavelength coverage of CHARIS will be from 1850nm to the longest wavelengths (please check the CHARIS website).

- Instrument switching between IRD, REACH, CHARIS, VAMPIRES, Fast PDI, and MEC during a single- or half-night observation is possible. Please check Subaru CfP for the time required for the switching the instruments. 

3.4 NN-EXPLORE in 2023A: Time Available on the WIYN 3.5m, the CTIO/SMARTS 1.5m with CHIRON, and MINERVA-Australis.  

The NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research (NN-EXPLORE) program continues in semester 2023A.  Detailed information about NN-EXPLORE can be found at https://noirlab.edu/science/observing-noirlab/proposals/nn-explore/
WIYN 3.5m
The NNEXPLORE program continues on the WIYN 3.5m, with 35 nights available for  exoplanet programs.  See more details about NN-EXPLORE on WIYN in Section 3.9.
NNEXPLORE offers observing time on the CTIO/SMARTS 1.5m with the precision radial-velocity spectrometer CHIRON, with 300 hours (equivalent to 30 nights of service observing) of observing time in 2023A.  See more details on the 1.5m/CHIRON in Section 3.8.
As part of the NNEXPLORE program, NASA is continuing in a partnership with the MINERVA-Australis consortium that began in 2020B.  That agreement continues in Semester 2023A, with 300 hours of observing time open to NNEXPLORE proposals.  MINERVA-Australis is a dedicated exoplanet observatory operated by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Queensland, Australia. The facility is located at USQ's Mt. Kent Observatory, and saw first light in quarter two 2018; commissioning of the facility was completed in mid-2019.  MINERVA-Australis currently consists of 5 (0.7m) PlaneWave CDK700 telescopes; these telescopes have two ports, allowing each to be used for either spectroscopic or photometric observations.   A summary of the facility and its capabilities can be found in the commissioning paper by Addison et al. 2019
The photometric channel is capable of milli-magnitude precision and currently, the light from four telescopes can be combined onto one R=75,000 echelle spectrograph for radial velocity precisions of 1 -10 m/s depending on the target brightness and how many telescopes are combined.  
- Note on Restrictions to MINERVA-Australis Call

NASA has made available to the US community 300 hours on the Minerva-Australis facility for the 2023A semester.  The time is intended for exoplanet research, primarily of TESS targets but other exoplanet science will be considered.  Proposed observing time will be allocated in hours and must include all science and calibration observations necessary to accomplish the science.  More information can be requested by contacting David Ciardi at NExScI (ciardi@ipac.caltech.edu) or Rob Wittenmyer at University of Southern Queensland (Rob.Wittenmyer@usq.edu.au). 

As the MINERVA-Australis is a scientific consortium, there are a set of restrictions by which proposers must abide:

• The MINERVA-Australis has listed a set of “Collaboration Targets,” which are a set of  targets that the collaboration is observing (see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1M4ee7qRmhMoldLqbngZD7qXMOQSzZvhV/view?usp=sharing__;!!PvBDto6Hs4WbVuu7!bQiLiXo3BVwkHQbR0BcXUQQTSbPCmfGjwn_M_AxEcZRASVtWNWsoGnp5bhGUX7dS24dGjMrw$ ) “Collaboration Targets” can be proposed for observation through the NASA time if the proposal principal investigator forms a collaboration with the appropriate MINERVA-Australis collaboration or the proposer and the MINERVA-Australis collaboration member come to a mutual agreement regarding the proposed observations.

• Observations will be made, on behalf of the NASA observers, in queue-mode by the MINERVA-Australis team.

• The MINERVA-Australis team will deliver the proposer’s raw data, 1D extracted spectra, and radial velocities (if desired by the proposer).

• Data obtained for US community observers will be archived at NExScI –through the ExoFOP service.  Archived data will have the option to have a maximum 12 month proprietary period.

• Any publications arising from the utilization of NASA time on MINERVA-Australis are subject to the main MINERVA-Australis publication policy regarding the inclusion of the listed Architects and Builders [to be provided by the Collaboration] and must acknowledge the NN-EXPLORE Program.Note

3.5 CHARA Increases Time Available to 45 Nights in 2023A

The NOIRLab allocation of observing time on CHARA has increased to 45 nights for 2023A.  The current instruments available are CLASSIC, CLIMB, PAVO, and MIRC-X/MYSTIC. 

VEGA has been decommissioned and it is expected that SPICA (its replacement) will only become available, at the earliest, in 2023B.

More information on CHARA and its instruments can be found at http://www.chara.gsu.edu .

3.6 Las Cumbres Observatory

As in recent semesters, NOIRLab time is available on both the 1m and 2m telescopes in the LCO global network.  In Semester 2023A, 1250 hours of time are available on the 1m telescopes and 200 hours on the 2m telescopes.  Proposer should pay particular attention to the following.
1. Proposals should avoid observations that compete directly with LCO Key Projects. The LCO Key Projects are multiyear, large coherent science programs.  They are the top science priority for the observatory. 
2. Requests for special observing modes -- Time Critical (TC) or Rapid Response (RR) -- must be explicitly justified in the proposal. All LCO proposals are technically reviewed to determine if the science requires TC or RR time.
3. LCO currently has different imaging instruments on the 2m telescopes in Hawaii and Australia. Hawaii has MuSCAT3, a multi-channel imager and Australia has SPECTRAL, a single channel imager. This has resulted in more demand for northern hemisphere 2m imaging time. No more than half of the available 2m time in 2023A can be allocated to MuSCAT3 imaging. LCO plans to replace SPECTRAL in Australia with MuSCAT4 to be available for semester 2024A.
The current LCO Key Projects run through semester 2023A. LCO anticipates issuing a call for new Key Projects later this year. For more information about the next LCO Key Project call for proposals, check the LCO main website at https://lco.global.
More information on observing with LCO can be found at   https://lco.global/astronomers

3.7 Gemini North and South

The Gemini Observatory has released a Call for Proposals for 2023A at:
The Gemini Call contains all of the information necessary to submit a Gemini proposal.  We suggest strongly that you also read the Gemini CfP if you are requesting Gemini or Subaru-exchange time to be aware of the latest news.
Proposers requesting Gemini time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT):

The Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT) will automatically add the time for the baseline partner calibrations to the total time requested for each target in the proposal.

Gemini-Subaru Exchange
Gemini and Subaru are continuing their time-exchange program. A minimum of 5 nights will be available to the Gemini community, providing that there is sufficient demand from both sides of the exchange. Please see the Gemini Call for Proposals for more Subaru-specific information. Proposers requesting Subaru time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT).

3.8 Zwicky Transient Facility and ANTARES event brokering

The NSF MSIP-funded Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) is currently issuing public transient alerts.  ZTF-II is now doing a two-night cadence all-sky survey as its public survey.  More information can be found at:
For 2023A, the NSF NOIRLab encourages submission of proposals for “target-of-opportunity” (ToO) follow-up observing triggered by ZTF alerts. Proposals should plan to use the current ToO policies and mechanisms for the facilities allocated through the NSF NOIRLab TAC. More information about current ToO policies and procedures at available open-access facilities can be found here:
Gemini Target of Opportunity observing:
CTIO Target of Opportunity observing:
Las Cumbres Observatory scheduling (including ToO)
The NSF NOIRLab is currently filtering ZTF alerts through the ANTARES event broker system (https://antares.noirlab.edu). For 2022B, ANTARES capabilities include positional and/or catalog-based filters with associated delta-magnitude thresholds, as well as more complex filters.  Proposers interested in employing these ANTARES capabilities within their programs during 2022B are encouraged to contact Dr. Tom Matheson (tom.matheson@noirlab.edu) in advance of the proposal deadline. Support for ANTARES science verification programs will be subject to availability of resources; depending on demand during this initial call, it is possible that only a subset of programs will be chosen for use with ANTARES.

3.9 KPNO

Mayall 4-m

The Mayall 4-m telescope is currently in the midst of survey observing with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). No time will be available through the NSF NOIRLab TAC.

WIYN 3.5m

Approximately 35 nights devoted to NN-EXPLORE programs will be available for NSF NOIRLab observing time in 2023A.  More details on the NN-EXPLORE Program on WIYN can be found at: https://noirlab.edu/science/observing-noirlab/proposals/nn-explore

Information specific to proposing for time using the precision radial-velocity spectrograph NEID can be found at:  https://www.wiyn.org/Instruments/wiynneid_call2022b.html

Open-access proposals, other than NNEXPLORE, can be submitted to WIYN, but these would only be scheduled if NNEXPLORE programs could not be scheduled for all of the NOIRLab WIYN time; in particular, proposals using only Hydra or ODI might have the best chance to be fit into time slots that could not fit into the NNEXPLORE schedule.

WIYN 0.9m

No new proposals are solicited in 2023A for the 0.9m with HDI.  We are working on re-opening as soon as possible and will issue a call for proposals at that time.

3.10 CTIO

Blanco 4m

Nights available in 2023A for new regular programs is approximately 100.

Instruments available: In 2023A, CTIO will be offering the Dark Energy Camera  (DECam) and the Cerro Tololo Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph (COSMOS):



NEWFIRM: We expect to begin recommissioning the NEWFIRM wide Field IR imager on the Blanco telescope during the 2022B semester. (See article for further details).  If all goes well, we will solicit Science Verification (SV) proposals from our user community and select a few to be executed in the second half of the 2023A semester. Clearly these dates depend on the performance of the instrument and could easily slip if problems need to be fixed. Updates on the NEWFIRM commissioning schedule can be found on the NEWFIRM webpage.  Because of the anticipated high demand for NEWFIRM in future semesters, we expect that COSMOS will be retired at the end of the 2023A semester.

Remote Observing: See the Information on equipment and software requirements and how to carry out remote observations at Blanco at: 


Note that we are waiving the requirement that all observers must have had previous observing experience at the telescope in order to carry out remote observations. However, we strongly encourage the involvement of experienced observers within your team in the planning and execution of your observations.


It is expected that approximately 48 nights of NOIRLab time will be available on SOAR for 2023A.

The SOAR website is located at:


Instruments: All instruments that were available in the previous two semesters, including TripleSpec 4.1, are currently available. See the Facilities Table in Sections 4.1 and 4.2 below for a list with links.

SOAR AEON update -

TripleSpec4.1 can be requested in its most-used observing mode, which is a basic ABBA dither pattern suitable for point sources. The observing block will also include a nearby telluric standard and an optional arc. The instrument continues to be available in classical mode for observers who require more complex observations.

We continue to offer the Goodman spectrograph with both red and blue cameras, in several spectroscopic and imaging configurations.

For details, please see:

SOAR Target of Opportunity Update -

Detection of gravitational wave events is currently expected to resume in semester 2023A  (O4). In contrast to the policy for the O3 campaign that ended in March 2020, we will treat approved GWE follow-up programs as standard ToO programs, governed by the current policy (https://noirlab.edu/science/observing-noirlab/observing-ctio/observing-soar/proposing-soar/targets-opportunity-overview). This policy has been revised since 2020, and should allow well-designed GWE follow-up programs to achieve their goals

As previously, if there are competing requests for follow-up of the same event on the same night, the first proposal to trigger will have priority but must promptly share the raw data with any other approved proposal team that requests it.

SMARTS (1.5m with CHIRON and 0.9m with CFCCD)

Time on the small telescopes at CTIO will be available to NSF NOIRLab users in 2023A.  The telescopes are operated by the SMARTS Consortium with up to 15% of time available to the NSF NOIRLab community.  The SMARTS web site is http://www.astro.gsu.edu/~thenry/SMARTS/.
The 1.5m + CHIRON (fiber-fed cross-dispersed echelle):
300 hours are available for the NNEXPLORE program, and assuming the facility remains open for all of 2023A, 180 hours will be available for scheduling by the NOIRLab TAC for non-NNEXPLORE programs.  For more information on the 1.5m, please contact Dr. Todd Henry at thenry@astro.gsu.edu.  Note that non-sidereal tracking is not supported with CHIRON spectroscopy at the 1.5m; the only option for non-sidereal targets is imaging via user time on the 0.9m.
The 0.9m + CFCCD:
The 0.9m can currently only be operated in user mode, so proposers should plan to travel for the observations, keeping in mind that there may be COVID-19-related restrictions or protocols.   We encourage applications for time on the understanding that it may not be possible to execute all, or any, of the successful proposals.  In the event that the site is open, up to 12 nights could be available for allocation by the NSF NOIRLab TAC.
For more information on the 0.9m, please contact Dr. Todd Henry at thenry@astro.gsu.edu. 

3.11 NOIRLab and NASA Space Observatories Observing Time

NSF's NOIRLab collaborates with NASA Space Observatories – the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Chandra, and Fermi – to provide investigators with complementary ground-based observations in support of their programs. Investigators can obtain time on facilities available through NOIRLab through successful proposals for JWST, Fermi, HST, and Chandra programs. This collaboration allows proposers to avoid the double jeopardy inherent in having to pass through two separate TAC processes, and provides access to facilities essential to obtaining complementary ground-based O/IR data without regard to institutional affiliation. Time awarded through this process can be scheduled over two semesters to coincide with annual proposal cycles of space observatories. Classical observing time awarded and scheduled through this process will not be automatically extended or augmented to account for losses due to bad weather.

Currently this opportunity is subject to a limit of 5% of the available time on any given NOIRLab telescope (plus up to an additional 5% for joint JWST/Gemini proposals; see below), averaged over one year, for all proposals under this collaboration. The available time eligible for this opportunity currently includes all time available for standard (non-survey) proposals on the 4m Blanco telescope, the US share of time on the 4m SOAR telescope, and the US share of time for regular proposals on the twin 8m Gemini telescopes. Per NOIRLab time allocation policy, applications from astronomers and students who work at non-US institutions must indicate why the project cannot be done using other facilities available to the investigators and why US national facilities are needed.

Investigators are responsible for providing sufficient details about their ground-based observations as part of the proposal to the relevant space observatory. This information will be used by reviewers to judge the scientific merit and necessity of the ground-based observations to the overall science program, and by NOIRLab to review technical and scheduling feasibility. Please consult the appropriate space telescope call for proposals for instructions on where to enter this information.

Note for Gemini Time: Proposals that request observations with the Gemini telescopes must submit a separate Gemini proposal to NOIRLab using the Gemini PIT, to enable the observations to be entered into the Gemini queue system. Please see the special information below about joint JWST/Gemini proposals for 2023B and 2024A. 

3.12 JWST/Gemini Joint Proposals for 2023B & 2024A

Note: this section does not pertain to observing semester 2023A. Proposers interested in Gemini follow-up to JWST observations in 2023A should either submit a regular Gemini proposal or apply to Gemini’s Fast Turnaround program.

In conjunction with JWST Cycle 2 observing, NOIRLab plans to offer up to an additional 5% of the US share of regular-proposal Gemini time in Semesters 2023B and 2024A for joint proposals using both JWST and Gemini, corresponding to approximately 6-8 nights total of high-priority queue-scheduled time in Bands 1 and 2. This JWST-focused time is in addition to the 5% time described in the preceding section for joint proposals across all space observatories. Time will be distributed across both semesters and both Gemini telescopes.

Guidelines for this opportunity are as follows:

  • Investigators should describe their Gemini observations in their JWST Cycle 2 proposal according to the guidelines in the preceding section and in the forthcoming JWST Call for Proposals. The scientific merit and technical feasibility of these observations will be reviewed through the JWST Cycle 2 process. Proposers should clearly describe how the combination of JWST and Gemini observations is essential to achieve the program’s scientific goals.
  • In addition to their JWST Cycle 2 proposal, investigators must submit a pro forma Gemini proposal to NOIRLab through the Gemini PIT by the 2023B Phase I deadline at the end of March 2023. This is to enable the incorporation of approved joint programs into the Gemini queue. Note that this proposal should be submitted by the 2023B deadline regardless of whether the requested Gemini observations fall in 2023B, 2024A, or both.
  • Gemini time will be queue-scheduled and should be requested in units of hours.
  • This opportunity is primarily intended to support programs that do not require concurrent observations between JWST and Gemini. Programs requiring concurrent observations are subject to more detailed feasibility constraints and should be discussed with STScI and NOIRLab/Gemini in advance of proposing.
  • STScI and NOIRLab reserve the right to cancel any allocations made under this opportunity in the event that they are determined to be infeasible.
  • Publications resulting from allocations under this opportunity should include the required acknowledgements for both JWST and Gemini.


4. General Information about Facilities Available through NOIRLab

4.1 Facilities List

Facility Telescope

Approximate nights available for new standard 2023A programs

Additional Information

8m Gemini North

8m Gemini South

8m Subaru (through time exchange)






CTIO 4m Blanco 100 https://noirlab.edu/science/programs/ctio
SOAR 4.2m SOAR 49 https://noirlab.edu/science/programs/ctio/telescopes/soar-telescope/about





NN-EXPLORE 300 hrs + 180 hrs for regular programs 



3.5m WIYN






6 x 1m aperture


45 http://www.chara.gsu.edu/public/instrumentation/

Global telescope network of 1m and 2m telescopes

1250 hrs (1m)

200 hrs (2m)


Keck 1

Keck 2





MINERVA-Australis  0.7m x 5  300 hrs https://www.usq.edu.au/hes/school-of-mathematics-physics-and-computing/mt-kent-observatory

Magellan (Clay + Baade)


6.5m  5 (total)  https://obs.carnegiescience.edu/astronomers


4.2 Telescope and Instrument Lists (with Instrument Proposal Code and Web-link)


GMOS-N: Gemini Optical Imager, Multi-Object Spectrograph and IFU
Note that the R600 grating is not available in 2023A.
GNIRS: Gemini Near Infra-Red Spectrograph 
As before, the short red camera is NOT available. YJHK imaging is available via the acquisition keyhole. A new low-resolution IFUs is being commissioned and will be offered for Fast Turnaround proposals only in semester 2023A.
GNIRS + Altair: Gemini Near Infra-Red Spectrograph with AO system (Altair).  
NIFS: Near-IR IFU Spectrograph
Available with or without AO capability. This instrument shares a port with NIRI and MAROON-X, hence it will only be available during specific blocks. NIFS is expected to be scheduled for two or three approximately one-month-long blocks during the semester. If the GNIRS IFUs are successfully commissioned in 2022, semester 2023A may be the last A semester where NIFS is offered.
NIFS + Altair: Near-IR IFU Spectrograph with AO system (Altair).  
NIRI: Near-Infrared Imager
Available throughout the semester. As in past semesters, NIRI is NOT available for spectroscopy. This instrument shares a port with NIFS and MAROON-X, hence it will only be available during specific blocks. NIRI  is expected to be scheduled for two or three approximately one-month-long blocks during the semester.
NIRI + Altair: Near-IR Imager with AO system (Altair).  
'Alopeke: Speckle Camera (visiting instrument)
A dual-channel fast-readout visual-wavelength camera giving simultaneous diffraction-limited images in two filters over a 2.8 arcsec field of view; as well as a wide-field mode which provides simultaneous two-color imaging in standard SDSS filters over a 60" field of view. The scheduling and length of the Alopeke visiting block(s) will be subject to community demand.  Targets of Opportunity (Rapid or Standard) are accepted for Alopeke, but will only be executed during the instrument blocks.
GRACES: Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (visiting instrument)
A high-resolution, R~67,500, optical (0.4-1 micron) spectrometer. Scheduled blocks to be determined with CFHT (where the instrument resides), based on demand. Semester 2023A may be the last semester where GRACES is offered.
MAROON-X: Precision Radial-Velocity High-Reolution Spectrograph (visiting instrument)
A high-resolution (R~80,000), optical (500 - 900nm) radial velocity (RV) spectrometer,  is open to the community for high precision RV studies as well as general purpose high-resolution spectroscopy.  Please use the Maroon-X Exposure Time Calculator to evaluate the instrument performance. This instrument shares a port with NIFS and NIRI, hence it will only be available during specific blocks. MAROON-X is expected to be scheduled for two or three approximately one-month-long blocks during the semester.


FLAMINGOS-2: Near-Infrared Wide Field Imager and Spectrometer (imaging, longslit, and MOS modes)
Offered in imaging, long-slit and MOS modes throughout the semester. The multi-object spectroscopy (MOS) mode allows simultaneous observation of up to 150 targets per mask over an area of 6'x2'.
GMOS-S: Gemini Optical Imager, Multi-Object Spectrograph and IFU
The noise problem on CCD-2 persists, as of August 2022; users are advised to dither or to place targets or spectral features on other parts of the detector. GMOS South may be removed for extensive engineering in the April to May 2023 period, to address this issue. In that case the instrument will not be available, and there will be reduced access to GMOS targets in the RA range of 8 to 12. Prospective users should check the instrument page for updates. The R600 grating is not available, however the new B480 grating is available, in 23A.
GSAOI/GeMS: Gemini Adaptive Optics Imager with Multi-Conjugate AO System
With the GeMS Adaptive Optics system: due to guide star limitations, investigators must check the availability of Guide Star constellations using the Observing Tool before submitting a proposal.  Observations in IQ85 are possible for programs that can use delivered images with full-width half-maximum of ~0.2 arcseconds as opposed to the ≤ 0.1 arcseconds delivered in IQ70 or IQ20 conditions. Observations under non-photometric conditions with 0.1 mag uniform extinction are also possible under very good IQ conditions.  The expectation is to have two or three laser runs of 7 nights each during the semester, the actual schedule will be based on the demand from the community.
Zorro: Speckle Camera (visiting Instrument)
A dual-channel fast-readout visual-wavelength camera giving simultaneous diffraction-limited images in two filters over a 2.8 arcsec field of view; as well as a wide-field mode which provides simultaneous two-color imaging in standard SDSS filters over a 60" field of view. The scheduling and length of the Zorro visiting block(s) will be subject to community demand.  Targets of Opportunity (Rapid or Standard) are accepted for Zorro, but will only be executed during the instrument blocks.
IGRINS: High-Resolution Near-IR Cross-Dispersed Echelle Spectrometer (visiting instrument)
A high-resolution (R~45000), single-setting, near IR (1.45 - 2.5 microns) echelle spectrometer, will be available throughout the semester except for two weeks before and during the 7-night GeMS/GSAOI runs. See the IGRINS at Gemini page for important information about writing IGRINS proposals.

Subaru (Gemini Exchange time)

AO 188 (Subaru 188-element Adaptive Optics system) is available in Natural Guide Star mode and Laser Guide Star mode.
FOCAS: Faint Object Camera and Spectrograph; is available.
HDS: High Dispersion Spectrograph (optical) is available.
HSC: will have a maximum of four observing runs between March and June. Some filters require permission for use, prospective users should check the HSC web page. Important notice for HSC filters: all applicants must explicitly describe the filters they intend to use, in their proposal. The desired set as well as the minimum acceptable set should be clearly specified.
MOIRCS (Multi-Object Infrared Camera and Spectrograph): is back online in shared-risk mode.
IRCS: IR Camera and Spectrograph: all polarimetry mode of IRCS is open as a shared-risk mode.
IRCS+AO188: IRCS + Natural Guide Star AO.  The polarimetry mode is a shared-risk mode.

Visiting Instruments on Subaru offered in 2022A (limited to one or two runs).  Proposals to use visiting instruments must include the instrument PIs as Co-investigators.

CHARIS : Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph - provides high contrast images of exoplanets, disks, brown dwarfs with SCExAO+AO188.  https://scholar.princeton.edu/charis

Fast PDI : (in shared-risk mode): polarization differential imaging (PDI) with a high speed (>kHz) near-IR (950 - 1860 nm) low-noise camera (C-RED One), optimized for high contrast imaging of circumstellar disks with SCExAO+AO188. 

IRD - Infrared Doppler: (in shared-risk mode): infrared high-dispersion, high resolution (up to 70,000) fiber-fed spectrometer.  IRD SSP is started in 2019A – any IRD proposal must clarify how its scientific aim is different from SSP. The observing mode REACH (SCExAO+IRD), is available.

MEC (in shared-risk mode): the MKID Exoplanet Camera is a near-IR (800-1400nm) photon-counting low-resolution (R~5) integral field spectrograph optimized for high contrast imaging with SCExAO+AO188.

VAMPIRES : The Visible Aperture Masking Polarimetric Imager for Resolved Exoplanetary Strucutres is a visible light instrument on the SCExAO system.   https://www.naoj.org/Projects/SCEXAO/scexaoWEB/030openuse.web/040vampires.web/indexm.html    

NsIR Wave Plate Unit:  for IRCS/SCExAO polarimetry mode. 

Keck I        





Keck II         







Magellan I (Baade)


FIRE: http://web.mit.edu/~rsimcoe/www/FIRE/



Magellan II (Clay)




CTIO 4m Blanco

DECam: Wide-Field Optical Imager
COSMOS: CTIO Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph


Goodman: Goodman Spectrograph
SOI: SOAR Optical Imager
TripleSpec4.1 (ex-ARCOIRIS): Cross-dispersed, single-object, longslit, IR imaging spectrograph
Spartan: Spartan IR Imager
SAM: SOAR Adaptive Module
SIFS: SOAR Integral-Unit Spectrograph

WIYN 3.5m

NEID: NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy, precision RV spectrograph
ODI: One Degree Imager (40' x 48' focal plane)
HYDRB: Hydra + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Blue camera
HYDRR: Hydra + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Red camera
SPSPKB: SparsePak Fiber Array + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Blue camera
SPSPKR: SparsePak Fiber Array + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Red camera
WHIRC: WIYN High Resolution IR Camera
NESSI: NASA Exoplanet Star (and) Speckle Imager


CLASSIC: IR (H or K) Imaging
CLIMB: IR (H or K) Imaging
MIRC-X/MYSTIC: Low-resolution H-band Spectroscopy
PAVO: Low-resolution Optical Spectroscopy

LCO-2m Global Network

Spectral: Optical Imager
FLOYDS: Cross-dispersed Low-resolution Spectrograph

MuSCAT3: Four-channel simultaneous imager              https://lco.global/observatory/instruments/muscat3/

LCO-1m Global Network

Sinistro: Optical Imager
NRES: High-resolution Fiber-fed Echelle Spectrograph


CHIRON: High-resolution Fiber-fed Cross-dispersed Echelle Spectrograph for Precision RV


CFIM+T2K: Cass Direct + SITe 2K CCD

WIYN 0.9m

HDI: Half-Degree Imager


5. How to Acknowledge Use of NSF's NOIRLab Facilities

There are a variety of credit lines which are appropriate for citing the use of data from one or more of the NOIRLab facilities. Please acknowledge the proper observatories by using the appropriate credit line as described in the following link: