UofC TAC Policies and Procedures

L.M. Hobbs
26 June 1996

It is an ARC policy that each member institution may devise its own method of internally dividing its contractual share of the use of the ARC 3.5 m telescope at Apache Point Observatory (APO). Users from the University of Chicago (UC) are entitled to use the telescope for an average of about 80 nights annually. The salient features of the policies and procedures for requesting and allocating this observing time which are described below have been approved by the faculty of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Experience will undoubtedly suggest future modifications of this current form of the policies and procedures.

From the outset, a specific goal of entering into the construction and operation of the ARC 3.5 m telescope was to enhance the opportunity for members of the University to carry out observing projects which are of a long-term nature or of high scientific risk, or which require rapid reaction to important new scientific discoveries on the time scale of perhaps a month or less. Because these objectives will not be translated into any specific operational form below, this general principle is reiterated here. In addition, it is intended that an equitable balance in the use of the telescope will be achieved over periods of approximately three years, among the various faculty sponsors.

The current procedures are as follows:

  1. With the few exceptions noted below, all UC proposals to use the telescope will be submitted by, or under the explicit sponsorship of, a faculty member in the Department, who will normally participate scientifically in the proposed project in some way. The sponsoring faculty member automatically assumes the duty of assuring that any such request is appropriate for a 3.5 m telescope and that any observing time which is consequently awarded will be used responsibly. In the special case of a graduate student who has not yet obtained a faculty sponsor to supervise his or her dissertation research, an unsponsored observing proposal should be submitted directly to the chairman of the UC TAC, who will act as the ombudsman for such proposals.

  2. Observing proposals will be submitted to the Chairman of the UC TAC no later than about October 20, January 20, April 20, and July 20, for observations during the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of the calendar year, respectively. Standard proposal forms must be used; information about them will be provided separately. Anyone who wishes to carry out observations remotely, i.e. from a location other than APO, must have previously spent a minimun of three nights on site, to acquire proper training in APO observing procedures.

  3. Shortly after a proposal deadline, the UC TAC will meet to review the proposals submitted. As the final product of such a review, the TAC will forward to the ARC Director for the 3.5 m telescope a set of observing projects which requires, on average, about 20 nights of telescope time during the corresponding three-month period, plus an additional 2 nights of reserve time. These reserve requests normally will not actually be scheduled for execution but will provide the Director with a pool of projects which can be used if additional observing time is unexpectedly available during the scheduling period in question.

  4. The ARC Director will then arrange the detailed scheduling of the telescope. When that schedule has been determined, the Director will promptly inform the Chairman of the UC TAC of the results. In turn, the latter will promptly inform the various faculty sponsors and the graduate students who submitted unsponsored requests about the specific nights, if any, scheduled for their projects.

  5. The reserve time noted in paragraph 3 is not, in general, related to targets of opportunity, such as supernovae, new comets, and newly announced astronomical discoveries by other scientists. No additional, formal proposals are initially envisaged with respect to such targets of opportunity. Instead, a faculty member who wishes to obtain observing time for such targets on short notice should negotiate with another UC sponsor who has already been awarded suitably positioned time. With the prior, explicit approval of the chairman of the UC TAC, a consequent substitution of UC observers and scientific projects which is mutually satisfactory to both parties involved may be recommended by the TAC Chairman to the Director. The Site Manager must also be notified of any consequent change at least 24 hours before the start of the modified observing. Within the same set of restrictions, and within a given observing quarter only, two UC faculty sponsors may, by mutual agreement, exchange periods of observing times which already have been respectively awarded to them.


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last modified 26 June 1996