CfA OIR Telescopes
The CfA is a partner in the Magellan consortium (twin
6.5-m telescopes at Las Campanas, Chile) and the 6.5 MMT
at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona.
The CfA also operates the Fred Lawrence Whipple
Observatory (FLWO) at Mt. Hopkins. The Ridge telescopes
on Mt. Hopkins include the 1.5-m, 1.3-m, PAIRITEL, and
Applying for CfA time
To apply for CfA time on the MMT, Magellan, or
Ridge Telescopes (1.5-m, 1.3-m, and PAIRITEL),
the CfA must be your primary
affiliation and you must be resident at a CfA facility. CfA
staff on leave or sabbatical may also apply for time.
Before applying for time, please read the
CfA Observing Policies.
The navigation column to the left has links to policies
for each observatory.
Before appying for time, please check
the instrument status and the range of
dates available for each telescope.
Applying for Public time
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory
(NOAO) allocates public
time available on the MMT and Magellan through the
Telescope System Instrumentation Program
There is no public time available on the OIR Ridge telescopes.
CfA Time Available
At FLWO and the MMT, we allocate time for four month trimesters.
In each trimester, the typical time available for CfA staff is
FLWO: 48 D (dark) + 24 G (grey) + 48 L (light) nights
MMTO: 20 D + 10 G + 20 L
During summer shutdown in Arizona, FLWO and MMTO allocations
are 25% smaller.
At Magellan, we allocate time for six month semesters.
In each semester, the typical time available is:
Magellan: 22 D + 11 G + 22 L
This time is roughly evenly divided between Magellan I (Baade)
and Magellan II (Clay).
Please check to see which
telescopes and instruments are available for the
next proposal due date.
Observing proposals are due at noon Eastern Time (EST or EDT)
on the second or third Tuesday of February, June, and October.
Observing proposals are submitted using a web-based form.
Observing proposals have three parts:
Cover page (including a short abstract)
Scientific Justification & Experimental Design (2 pages)
Figures, publications, references, and target list (2 pages)
Large proposals requesting more than 6 nights are allowed an extra
page for the scientific justification. These will be reviewed more
A LaTex template for all but the cover page is available
The proposals are collated by telescope and instrument,
and then printed out for review.
The time allocation committee (TAC) reviews the proposals.
Proposals are ranked according to
overall scientific merit
publication record using CfA facilities
availability of time requested
TAC members enter grades over the web.
Grades are normalized and averaged to produced
rank-ordered lists for each telescope.
Based on allocations from each observatory,
TAC members discuss each proposal and assign time.
The TAC meets three times per year, roughly two weeks
after observing proposals are due.
The TAC reads, ranks, and recommends time allocations for
The TAC chair sends time requests to staff at FLWO,
Magellan, and MMT Observatories and helps to
coordinate scheduling of CfA time requests.
Current TAC Members
Daniel Eisenstein (Chair)
Each observatory produces a schedule for observers.
After a draft schedule is produced, the TAC chair
checks the schedule and circulates the draft to observers.
Final schedules are posted on the web. The navigation
column to the left has links to schedules for FLWO,
Magellan, and the MMT.
To plan observing runs, all observers should contact the
appropriate instrument scientist or an experienced CfA observer.
Unlike NOAO, the FLWO, MMTO, and Magellan do not provide an
instrument scientist at the telescope or a software scientist
to assist with data reduction after your observing run. Thus,
it is the observer's responsibility to prepare for the run and
to learn about changes in the hardware and software since their
last observing run.
New observers should take extra time to prepare for their
observing run. If you are not familiar with a telescope or an
instrument, you must learn how to operate the instrument from an
experienced observer. Usually, arriving at the telescope several
days before your observing run will give you enough experience.
Please read the appropriate set of guidelines to help you to prepare
for your run.
FLWO Observing Policies
The TDC staff can also assist with instrument preparation
for FLWO and MMT instruments. Here are some useful links.
For additional information, you can also access these sites:
There is also an interactive
tour of Mt. Hopkins
Although scheduled observers may invite guests to watch operations
at the MMT, the MMTO has a strict visitor
policy that requires approval from Mr Dennis Smith, Mountain
Operations Manager. The TAC strongly supports this policy and recommends
that observers read the policy before traveling to the MMTO.