NOAO Web Observing Proposal - Online Help

Online Help for the NOAO

Standard Observing Proposal Web Form

The text below contains detailed information about what is required in each field of the Web proposal form for Standard Proposals.


  1. Be sure to read the documentation available on the proposal form home page that deals with changes to the proposal form and process, details about how to use the Web form, and instrument lists and availability.

  2. Investigators have two submission options.

    • Web submission. The proposal may be completed through the Web form attaching figures and/or text as noted in the instructions. The "Submit Proposal" button on the Web form displays a final check page - the proposal may then be submitted from this page to the proposal queue for consideration for observing time, or the investigator can choose to go back and make modifications to the proposal before final submission. Once the proposal has been submitted to the proposal queue it may no longer be modified.

    • File upload Once required general, investigator and run information has been completed on the Web form, the "Email LaTeX File" button becomes activated, and you can request that the partially completed LaTeX template be emailed back to you for editing locally. The completed LaTeX proposal form and any figures may then be submitted by by uploading them at

  3. If you are using the Web proposal submission process then be sure that you have included all of your figures as file attachments to your proposal. We have no way of dealing with "mixed" proposals in which part of the proposal is submitted via the Web and the rest is sent by email. You may of course use the Web proposal form to create the LaTeX version of your proposal and then submit it and any figures by electronic mail, being certain to edit the LaTeX file - that was returned to you as an option on the Web form - with the correct figure information, as needed.

  4. Before submitting your Web proposal form, be sure you have corrected any LaTeX errors and viewed the PostScript or PDF version of the proposal to make certain that it looks the way that you wish the review panels to see it.


You are asked to enter some general information associated with your proposal in this section of the Web proposal form.


Only the principal investigator and the first six co-investigators of an observing team will appear on your copy of the LaTeX-processed proposal. Any additional investigators, however, will be included in our database and available to the review panels.

Please complete all the fields for each investigator as noted. Complete address information for the PI is necessary for receiving correspondence related to your observing proposal.


  • Run information. Select from the pull-down menu the Observatory - Telescope combination that you are interested in using for each of the runs that you are requesting, starting with Run 1. You may request up to six runs for this proposal on this Web form. Leave those runs set to "Optional" for which you are not requesting time.

  • Scheduling constraints and non-usable dates. If there are scheduling constraints or non-usable dates for any of the runs specified, (i.e., other than the default lunar phase requirements or when your object is up) please enter that information here. Note here if you are requesting runs in an "either/or" situation, e.g. run 1 or run 2, but not both. This is also the place to advise us of any special constraints which affect the scheduling of your observing run (e.g. "schedule run #1 before run #2" or "run dates must be coordinated with HST observations"). It would also be useful to our schedulers if you noted here that there are potential conflicts with other proposals. Please limit your text to 4 lines on the printed copy.


    Please enter the specified details for each of the observing runs that you have requested. The Observatory - Telescope combination that you indicated for each run on the previous page is listed along with the information needed to complete the observing run specifications. For longterm proposals specify only the runs for the current semester, and not for any subsequent semesters.

    Several instrument configuration parameters are requested. Fill these in as appropriate for each run. If you have questions about any of the parameters check out the appropriate instrument manual on the "Instrument Lists" page off the proposal home page.

    There are up to two text fields in this section of the proposal form. These entries must be LaTeX-compatible. You may use LaTeX commands to indicate special symbols, inline math or equations, or tables. See our LaTeX Pointers document for help. You can either enter the text directly in the form provided (cutting and pasting works well, too) or in the case of the technical description attach a file that has been previously prepared (the attachment option requires that you are running a browser compatible with Netscape 2.0 or later).


    There are five parts to this section of the Web proposal form. Be sure to fill out each part. These entries must be LaTeX-compatible. You may use LaTeX commands to indicate special symbols, inline math or equations, or tables. See our LaTeX Pointers document for help. You can either enter the text directly in the form provided (cutting and pasting works well, too) or attach a file that has been previously prepared (the attachment option requires that you are running a browser compatible with Netscape 2.0 or later).

    HINT: If you are doing multiple cuts/pastes into the same form window, be sure to set the cursor in the form window with the left mouse button just before you paste in the information with the middle mouse button. Note that you should only cut and paste from a text window and not from an editor like MS Word where special characters may be carried along with the text and cause problems later on down the processing chain.

    Part 1: Abstract of Scientific Justification

    Give a general abstract of the scientific justification appropriate for a non-specialist. Limit yourself to approximately 175 words. Abstracts of accepted proposals will be made publicly available.

    Part 2: Scientific Justification

    Give the scientific justification for the proposed observations, including the overall significance to astronomy. LIMIT TEXT TO ONE PAGE (the TAC has requested that we not send them more than one page) with figures (up to three), captions and references on no more than two additional pages. Figures that are included with this proposal may be referenced from this section, i.e., Figure 1, Figure 2, or Figure 3. Do NOT use LaTeX commands for embedding figures into this section, however.

    References may be included at the end of this section using the "reference" environment, as in the example below (journal commands are compatible with AASTeX v4.0):

    \reference Armandroff \& Massey 1991 \aj, 102, 927.
    \reference Berkhuijsen \& Humphreys 1989 \aap, 214, 68.
    \reference Massey 1993 in Massive Stars: Their Lives in the Interstellar
      Medium (Review), ed. J. P. Cassinelli and E. B. Churchwell, p. 168.
    \reference Massey \& Armandroff 1999, in prep.

    Part 3: Experimental Design

    This section should consist of text only. The length of this section is limited to a single printed page.

    Describe your overall observational program. How will these observations contribute toward the accomplishment of the goals outlined in the science justification? If you've requested long-term status, justify why this is necessary for successful completion of the science.

    Part 4: Use of Other Facilities or Resources

    This section should consist of text only (no figures). Please limit to about a half page of printed text.

    We are interested in understanding how observations made through NOAO observing opportunities complement or support data from other facilities both on the ground and in space. We will use this information to guide the evolution of the NOAO program.

    a) Please describe how the proposed observations complement data from other facilities, including private observatories and both ground- and space-based telescopes. In addressing this question, take a broad view of your research program. Are the data to be obtained through this proposal going to help select samples for detailed observations using larger telescopes or from space observatories? Are these data going to be directly combined with data obtained elsewhere to test a hypothesis? Will these observations have relevance to other observations, even though the proposal stands on its own? For each of these other facilities, indicate the nature of the observations (yours or those of others), and describe the importance of the observations proposed here in the context of the entire program.

    b) Do you currently have a grant that would provide resources to support the data processing, analysis, and publication of the observations proposed here?

    Part 5: Previous Use of Facilities Available Through NOAO

    How effectively have you used the facilities available through NOAO in the past? List allocations of telescope time on NOAO facilities to the Principal Investigator during the past 2 years, together with the current status of the data (cite publications where appropriate). Mark any allocations of time related to the current proposal with a \relatedwork{} command.


    Target tables provided in this section are required for all programs requesting queue or service runs. The information entered in these tables will be formatted for you as LaTeX tables and placed at the end of the appropriate run details section in the printed copy.

    Since target tables are tied to specific runs, you may not start a target table for a run until the run has been specified on the "Enter Observing Runs" page.

    Note that for iterative targets, only the parameters that need to be changed have to be specified. Once a parameter is specified in the table, it is retained until explicitly changed.

    The fields in the non-Gemini target tables include:

      Object ID            use a unique 3-digit number for queue targets
      Object               if contains a '\' must write as '\_' for proper LaTeX.
      RA                   e.g., xx:xx:xx.x
      DEC                  e.g., +-xx:xx:xx.x
      Epoch                e.g., 1950.3
      Exposure time        in seconds PER EXPOSURE
      Number of exposures
      Days from new moon   use a number 0-14
      Sky condition        use "spec" or "phot"
      Seeing               max allowable PSF FWHM (arcsecs)
      Comment              20 characters maximum


    Each proposal may include up to three figures and captions. For Web-prepared proposals two figure files may be placed side-by-side in one figure - this would be equivalent to \plottwo in LaTeX. The figure files should be well-behaved Encapsulated PostScript files. We will recompute a new bounding box for each figure file that is "attached" just in case the original bounding box is off a bit. If the "rotate" option is selected we will rotate the figure file and then compute a new bounding box for this rotated figure. All of these operations will modify the original PostScript figure file. If the figure contains only one figure file a "scaling factor" will be applied if that option is selected.

    We will automatically place the figures for your Web-prepared proposal for you at the end of the "Scientific Justification" section of your proposal (please do not include any LaTeX figure commands in the "Scientific Justification", or any other part of your proposal form). You may adjust the "scaling factor" for single figures to improve the overall appearance of the figures in your proposal, as needed (use the "View PS File" button). The "scale" option is a no-op for side-by-side figures. You must be using a browser that is compatible with Netscape 2.0 or later to attach figures to your Web proposal form. Note that it may not be practical to submit figure files larger than 1 Mb through the Web proposal process.

    If you plan to submit your proposal using the Web submission process then any figures that are part of your proposal must be "attached" (as unencoded files) to this proposal through the Web form provided. We ask that you not submit your proposal using the Web form and then plan to send the figures separately by email - we have no way to handle a "mixed" submission. You may, however, use the Web form to prepare your proposal, including any captions to your figures, and then have the LaTeX form emailed back to you for submission through the email submission process, if for some reason you can not "attach" your figures. Edit the returned LaTeX file, as needed, to correctly identify and scale your figures before you submit the proposal by email (instructions are in the LaTeX template). NOTE: If you plan to LaTeX your proposal locally and include figures you must have resident on your system an epsf.sty file - if you do not have this file you can FTP a copy from our anonymous FTP site at, in the noao directory.

    We do urge you, of course, to use the figure "attachment" option. If you are having problems with your figures, e.g., they will not place on the figure page correctly, perhaps we can assist you. Contact us at, including your username for the proposal in question and the type of problem you are experiencing; we may be able to intervene at our end and fix things so they work for you.


    If you are experiencing figure placement problems with the proposal that you are going to send to us by electronic mail you may be having "BoundingBox" problems. In order for the \plotone and \plottwo commands to work properly your figure file must be an Encapsulated PostScript file with a reasonable "BoundingBox".

    If you continue to have problems do not get discouraged. Contact us at - we may be able to assist you.

    Updated: 31Aug2011