Proposing for Telescope Time

To apply for CfA telescope time the CfA must be your primary affiliation and you must be resident at a CfA facility. (Working from home counts as residence.) In-coming postdocs may apply if they will be in residence during the trimester/semester. CfA staff on leave or sabbatical may also apply for time.

PROPOSALS ARE DUE at NOON Eastern Time (EST or EDT) on the 2nd Tuesday of February, April, June, and October, as follows:

Due Date for Telescope Trimester or Semester
Feb 9, 2021MMT + FLWOB (May 1 - July 31)
April 13, 2021Magellan B (July 16 - Jan 15)
June 8, 2021MMT + FLWOC (Sept 1 - Dec 31)
Oct 12, 2021Magellan A (Jan 16 - July 15)
Oct 12, 2021MMT + FLWOA (Jan 1 - April 30)


  • Proposals must contain:
    1. Cover page (include co-I's, their institutions, and a <100 word abstract).
    2. Scientific Justification & Experimental Design (2 page limit, 12pt font required).
    3. Figures and Tables (1 page limit)
    4. Addendum (no page limit, but typically 2-3 pages as described in the Instructions for CfA OIR Telescope Proposals)
  • LATEX TEMPLATE for everything (except the Cover page, which is auto-generated). PDF version here.
  • If applying for more than one instrument, please submit a SEPARATE proposal for each instrument on each telescope (even if the same telescope). A proposal should contain a request for ONE instrument only. This facilitates bookkeeping and the review process.
  • Any proposal requiring more than one trimester of time should be marked as Long: long-term proposals must state the number of nights needed for completion and, if continuing, state progress made.
  • Large proposals requesting more than 6 nights in a single semester/trimester are allowed an extra page for the scientific justification. These will be reviewed more critically.

REVIEW PROCESS: Proposals are sorted by telescope and by instrument, and then distributed to the Time Allocation Committee (TAC). Proposals are ranked according to:

  • Overall scientific merit
  • Publication record using CfA facilities
  • Availability of time requested

Grades from each TAC member are normalized and averaged to produced rank-ordered lists for each telescope. The TAC members meet to discuss each proposal and assign time, given the time available on a telescope. Finally, the time is scheduled by the observatory staff in consultation with the relevant TACs (e.g. Magellan involves 6 partners).

SCHEDULE NOTIFICATION: PIs are notified by the appropriate observatory (MMT, Magellan, or FLWO) when schedules are complete, typically 1 month before the trimester/semester begins. The TAC Chair will then send notes to PIs who were not scheduled time, or to PIs with substantive TAC feedback/concerns.