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Telescopes and Instruments for 2017A

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 Friday, 30 September 2016 for the upcoming 2017A semester (February 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, CHARA, CTIO, and KPNO for the 2017A 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 2017A. Proposers requesting Gemini time must use the Gemini Phase-I Tool (PIT).

GMOS-North will be unavailable from February 1 through March 19 2017 for Hamamatsu CCDs installation and commissioning.

Subject to community demand, the DSSI Speckle camera visitor instrument will be available at Gemini North (first half of semester) and at Gemini South (second half of semester).

If demand warrants, TEXES will be available at Gemini North in February 2017.

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

If demand warrants, Phoenix will be available at Gemini South during the second half of 2017A.

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 2017A.

CHARA: About 5 nights of service observations with the CHARA Interferometer Array at Mt. Wilson will be available to the community during 2017A. Note that this call covers a six-month period, not a full year as in the past. We expect a similar amount of time to be available in 2017B. Time should be requested in multiples of 0.5 nights.


Blanco 4-m

Instruments available: In 2017A, 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 2017A: The Dark Energy Survey (DES) has been granted 105 nights per year, for five years, on the Blanco Telescope. In 2017A the first half of the nights of February 1-8 and 15-18 are allocated to DES. NOAO has also pre-committed twenty two full nights during 2017A for the DECals survey. The specific nights allocated are: Feb 28; March 1-5 and 26-31; April 18-21; and May 18-23. Observers submitting proposals for time critical observations which collide with one of these dates should contact the CTIO director to see if accommodation is possible.

It is possible that the primary mirror of the Blanco telescope will be re-coated towards the end of 2017A, which will require a 3-4 week engineering block; whether this happens and exactly when will not be finally decided until the telescope is scheduled in November.


The SOAR web site is located at:

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). We expect to post final results from commissioning before the end of September (see the Goodman page at SOAR, or the SOAR home page, for further details). Our expectation is that this will be the preferred configuration for anyone who does not worry about UV response. 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 restricted use speckle camera, HRCam, can be proposed for. If the AO-assisted mode is desired, please request SAMHR on the proposal form.

We also hope to have another observing run with the Fabry Perot mode of SAM, but if this happens it would be through a special call for proposals. A decision will be made around mid-semester; please check the SOAR news page or contact one of the SAM F-P team members. See for details on both of these capabilities.

The grating complement on the Goodman spectrograph has evolved somewhat over the past few years; for 2017A it will be the same as for 2016B. See the web site for the current grating complement.


Time on the small telescopes at CTIO will be available to NOAO users in 2017A 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. The data acquisition system has recently been updated -- see the article on page 19 of the September 2016 issue of the NOAO Newsletter. 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 + CHIRON (fiber-fed cross-dispersed echelle) is not being operated in 2017A. We are looking 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: As most users of the KPNO 4-m Mayall telescope know, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is scheduled for installation on the telescope in FY2018, and the five-year survey will commence in FY2019. In preparation for the DESI survey, approximately 1125nights in semester 2017A have been reserved for the Mayall z-band Legacy Survey (MzLS) for DESI targeting. MzLS data will be public and will enable much more science than just DESI targets. MzLS will overlap much of the SDSS footprint and will provide z-band images to a 5-sigma point-source depth of 23.0 AB mag.

Time available for non-MzLS observing programs in 2017A will primarily be limited to a few full moon nights throughout the semester and nights of various lunation during the the final six weeks of the semester (mid-June through July). Some of this time may be allocated in half-night blocks.

In 2017A, the instruments offered at the Mayall will be KOSMOS and Mosaic-3. KOSMOS is a high-efficiency optical spectrograph with both single- and multi-slit modes. 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 ends its tenure at the Mayall 4-m telescope on Kitt Peak at the end of the 2016B semester and will not be offered in 2017A.

WIYN: As was the case in the 2016B, 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 an upgraded speckle camera. The Differential Speckle Survey Camera (DSSI), built in 2008, is being replaced in 2017A and beyond by the NASA Exoplanet Star (and) Speckle Imager, or NESSI. As with DSSI, NESSI utilizes two electron-multiplying CCD cameras to capture speckle images in two colors simultaneously. The images obtained reach the diffraction limit of the telescope and enable searches for and differential astrometry on binaries with delta magnitudes of up to 5 and separations up to 1.3 arcsec. Unlike DSSI, NESSI will have remote controlled filter wheels in each beam, split by the dichroic at 685 nm.

The EMCCDs can operate with high sensitivity and low noise even at very fast readout rates (up to 30 MHz), providing high time resolution. NESSI will also introduce a new "wide-field" mode that will enable the collection of images with fields of > 50 arcseconds. Each 6-slot filter wheel will come with two "narrow-band" speckle filters, two standard SDSS filters, and two empty slots. An updated, far more automated, user-friendly software interface will be included as well. Final reduced reconstructed images will be provided to the PI after the run for exoplanet speckle projects. See Howell et al., 2011, AJ, 142, 19H, Scott et al., SPIE presentation June 2016.

WIYN's 2017 summer shutdown is expected to begin in July.

Remote Observing: KPNO offers remote observing for selected programs in 2017A. 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 2017A

The following telescope/instrument/detector combinations are available in 2017A.

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
TEXES Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectograph (visitor instrument)
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
DSSI DSSI Speckle Camera (visitor instrument)
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
Suprime-Cam wide-field Optical Imager

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 the CHARA Array
Proposal CodeBeam Combiner
ClassicIR Imaging
ClimbIR Imaging
VEGAOptical Spectroscopy
PAVOlow-res Spectroscopy

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
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
NESSINASA Exoplanet Star (and) Speckle Imager

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: September 1, 2016

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