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Telescopes and Instruments for 2016B

Observing time at the facilities available through the National Optical Astronomy Observatory is allocated via peer review twice a year. Proposals must be received by Thursday, 31 March 2016 for the upcoming 2016B semester (August 2016 through January 2017). All proposals are due the evening of the due date by midnight MST.

Please read the following sections for information on telescope and instrument availability at Gemini North and South, Subaru, AAT, CTIO, and KPNO for the 2016B semester.

What's New on Facilities Available through NOAO

The following changes to instrumentation at all facilities available through NOAO are noted here to alert investigators preparing proposals.

Gemini North and South

The Gemini Observatory has released a Call for Proposals for 2016B. Proposers requesting Gemini time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT).

The DSSI Speckle camera visitor instrument will be available at Gemini North.

If demand warrants, Phoenix will be available at Gemini South during the second half of 2016B. Visit for the most up-to-date information.

GRACES offers high-resolution (R~67,500) optical spectroscopy between 400 and 1000 nm at Gemini North.

Gemini-Subaru Exchange

Gemini and Subaru are continuing their time-exchange program. A desired minimum of five classically-scheduled nights will be available to the Gemini community, providing there is sufficient demand from both sides of the exchange. Please see the Gemini call for proposals for more information. Proposers requesting Subaru time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT).

Community Access Time

AAT: Due to a time-exchange program between CTIO and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, five nights of classical observing time at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope will be available to the community during 2016B.


Blanco 4-m

Instruments available: In 2016B, CTIO will be offering the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), the Cerro Tololo Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph (COSMOS), and the Astronomy Research with the Cornell InfraRed Imaging Spectrograph (ARCoIRIS).

Nights Available in 2016B: The Dark Energy Survey (DES) has been granted 105 nights per year, for five years, on the Blanco Telescope. These nights are being scheduled in such a way as to allow the wide field survey of the Southern Galactic cap to be executed as efficiently as possible. This means that all but about five of these nights fall in the B-Semester with the DES time concentrated in the months of September through November, and with second half nights scheduled during August and the first half of September, and first half nights scheduled from late December to February. This leaves very little time available to observe targets in the same range of RA's as the DES footprint. For reference the oversubscription factor for new proposals was 5.2 for the 2015B semester. We expect 45 nights to be available for new NOAO programs in 2016B, with much of the time at the two ends of the semester and lesser availability in the middle months.

Block Scheduling: DES also includes a supernova search which involves repeatedly observing 10 fields with a target cadence of once every 4-5 nights. This makes it hard to schedule contiguous blocks of time longer than 3 nights in dark time and 5 in bright. If your run can be split into shorter blocks, whether only a few days apart or, at entirely different times in the semester, be sure to tell us. Because of the effort required to switch from prime to f/8 and back, coupled with the DES block length constraint we will only schedule two or three relatively short f/8 blocks, during bright time in the 2016B semester. In doing this, we will try to satisfy the optimum date range requested in the most highly ranked f/8 proposals, but please be as flexible as possible when specifying these and equally be sure to very clearly indicate if your proposal is time critical on the scheduling constraints line.


The SOAR instrument complement and other capabilities (including remote observing) are generally unchanged from prior semesters. However, the SOAR web site has been significantly overhauled and is now located at:

SOAR will be unavailable in for about six weeks in October/November 2016 so that the mirrors can be removed and recoated.

OSIRIS has been retired. For near IR spectroscopy, users should consider TS4 on Blanco, which offers similar capabilities with better performance. For near IR imaging consider SPARTAN on SOAR.

A second camera for the Goodman spectrograph will be available, which incorporates a deep-depletion e2v CCD with better red performance (but somewhat inferior UV performance). It has not yet completed commissioning, so details on performance are not yet available - see the Goodman page at SOAR for further details. Users are restricted to one camera on a given night, but do not need to commit to a specific camera when writing the proposal.

The grating complement on the Goodman spectrograph has evolved somewhat over the past few years; for 2016B it will be the same as for 2016A. See the web site for the current grating complement.


Time on the small telescopes at CTIO will be available to NOAO users in 2016B via the usual proposal process. The telescopes are operated by the SMARTS consortium with up to 15% of time available to the NOAO community.

The 0.9m + CFCCD is available in user mode only. For more information on the 0.9m, please contact Dr. Todd Henry at

The 1.3m + ANDICAM (dual channel optical / IR imager) is available in queue / service mode only. The 1.3-m telescope is primarily used for monitoring projects, thus programs are scheduled in non-contiguous segments of an hour or less with a limit of three hours total within any given night.

Due to funding constraints, the 1.5m will not be operated in 2016B. We plan to re-open for 2017A for a minimum of 8 months, on a week-on, week-off basis. We are lookng for additional funding in order to return to full operations.

Non-sidereal tracking is no longer supported as service or queue observing. The only option for non-sidereal is user time on the 0.9m.

Further information can be found at


Mayall: The 2016B Semester at the Mayall will be shorter than usual, as a result of the ProtoDESI installation and testing campaign. We currently expect that the ProtoDESI campaign will require about eight weeks of telescope time and will start sometime in early August.

In 2016B, the instruments offered at the Mayall will be KOSMOS, NEWFIRM, and at prime focus, Mosaic-3. Mosaic-3 is a new incarnation of the NOAO Mosaic imager. It consists of four 4Kx4K, red-sensitive LBNL CCDs mounted in the Mosaic-2 Dewar. Please see for the latest information.

The facility infrared camera NEWFIRM will end its tenure at the Mayall 4-m telescope on Kitt Peak at the end of the 2016B semester. Proposals for NEWFIRM in 2016B will be limited to completion of previously approved Survey programs and for newly approved short programs that can be done observationally ina few nights.

WIYN: As was the case in the 2016A, priority at the WIYN-3.5m will be given to qualifying proposals under the NN-EXPLORE program. More information on the NASA Guest Observer program can be found at

Instruments offered at WIYN include the upgraded ODI, now with a 48'x40' focal plane. Other facility instruments on offer are HYDRA, the IFUs (SparsePak, HexPak, and GradPak), WHIRC (with or without WTTM), and for NASA GO proposers, the speckle camera DSSI. Summer shutdown activities are expected to occur throughout the month of August at WIYN, with available observing time beginningin September.

Remote Observing: KPNO offers remote observing for selected programs in 2016B. If you are interested in this opportunity, please see the requirements for observing remotely at . If you are requesting remote observing, please make a note of this in the "Scheduling constraints and non-usable dates" section that appears at the bottom of the first page of the NOAO proposal form and include any additional details in the "Technical Description" text of your observing run.

Telescope and Instrument Lists for 2016B

The following telescope/instrument/detector combinations are available in 2016B.

Instruments at Gemini Telescopes
Proposal CodeInstrument/Detector
Gemini North
GMOS-N Gemini Optical Imager, Multi-Object Spectrograph and IFU
GNIRS Gemini Near Infra-Red Spectrograph
NIFS near-IR IFU spectrograph
NIRI Near-Infrared Imager
DSSI DSSI Speckle Camera (visitor instrument)
GRACES Gemini Remote Access to CFHT EsPaDOnS Spectrograph (visitor instrument)

Gemini South
FLAMINGOS-2 Near-IR wide field imager and spectrometer.
GMOS-S Gemini Optical Imager, Multi-Object Spectrograph and IFU
GPI Gemini Planet Imager
GSAOI + GeMS Gemini South AO Imager and Multi-Conjugate AO System
Phoenix Phoenix hi-res IR Spectrometer (visitor instrument)

Subaru (Exchange Time)
COMICS Cooled Mid-IR Camera and Spectrometer
FOCAS Faint Object Camera and Spectrograph
HDS High Dispersion Spectrograph
HSC Hyper Suprime-Cam wide-field Optical Imager
IRCS IR Camera and Spectrograph
IRCS+AO188 IRCS + Natural and Laser Guide Star AO
MOIRCS Multi-Object IR Camera and Spectrograph

Instruments at the Anglo-Australian Telescope
Proposal CodeInstrument/Detector
AAOmega+2dF Fiber-fed Optical Spectrograph
AAOmega+KOALA 1000-element optical IFU
AAOmega+SAMI 13 IFU fiber bundles over a 1-degree field
HERMES+2dF High Efficiency and Resolution Multi-Element Spectrograph
IRIS2 n-IR imager and longslit/multi-slit spectrograph
UCLES Cross-dispersed Echelle Spectrograph
UCLES +CYCLOPS2 Cross-dispersed Echelle Spectrograph + 16-element IFU

Instruments at CTIO Telescopes
Proposal CodeInstrument/Detector
4-m Blanco Telescope
DECam Dark Energy Camera
COSMOSCerro Tololo Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph
TS4 ARCoIRIS TripleSpec4 near-IR spectrograph

4-m SOAR Telescope
Goodman Goodman Spectrograph + Fairchild 4Kx4K CCD
SOISOAR Optical Imager + E2V 4Kx4K Mosaic
Spartan Spartan IR Imager
SAM SOAR Adaptive Module
HRCAM High-Resolution Camera, standalone
SAMHR SOAR Adaptive Module with HRCam

1.3m Telescope
ANDI+CCDIR Cass Direct + CCD/IR Queue-Service

0.9-m Telescope
CFIM+T2K Cass Direct + SITe 2K CCD

Primary Instruments/Detectors at KPNO Telescopes
Proposal CodeInstrument/Detector
4-m Mayall Telescope
MOSA Prime Focus CCD Camera with Mosaic Imager and Mosaic-3 upgrade
NEWFIRMvery wide-field IR imager
KOSMOSKitt Peak Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph in single-slit mode
KOSMOSMKitt Peak Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph in multi-object mode

WIYN (3.5-m Telescope)
ODI(40'x48' focal plane) One Degree Imager
GRDPK GradPak IFU + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD
HEXPK HexPak IFU + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD
HYDRBHydra + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Blue camera
HYDRRHydra + Bench Spectrograph + STA1 CCD, Red camera
SPSPKR SparsePak Fiber Array + Bench Spectrograph + STA1, Red camera
WHIRCWIYN High Resolution IR Camera
DSSIDifferential Speckle Survey Instrument (available for exoplanet proposals only)

WIYN (0.9-m Telescope)
HDI Half-Degree Imager

Instrument Contacts

QUESTIONS? You can contact staff scientists using the information linked below.

Gemini Staff Contacts:

Gemini assistance is available by sending email to an NOAO Gemini Science Center Instrument Support Scientist, to, or through the Gemini Help Desk at

CTIO Staff Contacts:

Please see CTIO's Staff Contact List.

KPNO Staff Contacts:

Please see KPNO's Staff Contact List.

Proposal questions, as well as any comments and/or suggestions, may be directed to

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NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
Last updated: March 11, 2016

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