Applying for Keck

Call for Proposals for Swinburne and ANU access to the Keck telescopes in Semester 2018A

Proposal Deadline

Swinburne and ANU proposals for KTAC time in Semester 2018A (1 Feb to 31 July 2018) must be submitted electronically by:


5:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Friday 22 September 2017


What's new in 2018A?

  1. KTAC proposals are now submitted via the use of the AAO Lens proposal handling system. See the "Submitting" tab for information on how to go about submitting your proposal.
  2. The NIRES near-infrared echellette spectrograph is offered for shared-risk science use from Feb 2018.
  3. AAL is no longer contributing time to the KTAC pool. As a result, only proposals led by a Swinburne-based or ANU-based PI will be accepted in Semester 2018A. The Swimburne and ANU nights will be pooled by KTAC to offer the best flexibility in lunations, telescopes, etc. and PIs should indicate on the proposal form the number of nights they are requesting from each partner.

Instruments Available in Semester 2018A

The instruments normally available on the two Keck telescopes are listed on the ITSO Keck instrumentation page, but applicants should bear in mind the following for Semester 2018A:

  • NIRES will be available for shared-risk science beginning in Feb 2018.
  • Keck 1 LGSAO: A new infrared tip/tilt sensor (TRICK) is available.
  • NIRC2 L-Band Vortex Coronagraph: Dimitri Mawet at Caltech is the primary point of contact and users are encouraged to contact him prior to preparing a proposal.
  • Keck exchange time on Subaru is not offered by KTAC. However Australian astronomers can apply directly for 5 nights of Subaru time in 2018A and in 2018B.
  • KTAC is not participating in the Time Domain Astronomy program that enables cadence and Target-of-Opportunity observing on Keck. Please select only the "Classical" Proposal Type from the Cover Sheet Editor.

Available Time

KTAC will have a total of 11.5 nights to allocate in Semester 2018A as follows:

Keck I: 1 bright, 4 grey, and 2 dark nights, for a total of 7 nights.
Keck II: 2.5 bright, 1 grey, and 1 dark nights, for a total of 4.5 nights.

In preparing their proposals applicants should bear in mind the following guidelines:

  • Swinburne University of Technology (SUT) Keck nights have been secured by a collaborative agreement with the California Institute of Technology, while ANU nights are collectively secured via a collaborative agreement directly with the W. M. Keck Observatory. KTAC's mission is to increase the quality and impact of the science being conducted with Keck by Australian institutions over what could be achieved by each institution individually, while respecting each partner's existing agreements and entitlements.
  • KTAC applicants should request nights from one or both of the KTAC partner shares (SUT, ANU) in proportion to the institutional representation and/or intellectual contribution from individual investigators. Note that all proposals requesting time from the SUT share of nights will be subject to a compliance check based on the principles of SUT's collaborative agreement with the California Institute of Technology; anyone seeking time from the SUT share should check their eligibility with David Fisher (dfisher -@- before submitting their proposal.
  • The minimum time that may be requested from any one partner is 0.5 nights. Applicants requiring only a single night may split their request into a half-night each from two partners if warranted.
  • Following the KTAC meeting, the Directors of SUT's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing and ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics will meet with the KTAC Chair and Technical Secretary to finalise allocation of nights to the highest-ranked programs from each partner's respective share of time on each of Keck I and Keck II. In some cases this may result in some programs receiving a slightly different share from each partner than originally requested.
  • To assist in the scheduling process it is important that applicants provide as much information as possible in the "Flexibility & Minimum Time" section of the proposal form. What trade-offs would be involved in allocating brighter time, or even switching a program from one Keck instrument to another?
  • Historically demand for the instruments on Keck 1 has exceeded that for those on Keck 2, so applicants may wish to consider whether their program might still be possible using a different instrument (e.g. DEIMOS instead of LRIS).
  • Note that Keck 1 and Keck 2 have asymmetric and different elevation limits. At certain azimuths, Keck 1 cannot point as far to the East, and Keck 2 as far to the West.
  • The Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) makes nearly all Keck data publicly available after a proprietary period of 18 months. KTAC applicants must check the KOA for any available observations of their target(s) using a comparable instrumental setup to what they are proposing, and justify why new observations are warranted.

Need Help?

For general enquiries concerning Australian access to Keck, please contact the International Telescopes Support Office (itso -@- For enquiries about a specific instrument please contact the instrument master listed on each instrument's home page, or contact ITSO to be directed to a local expert if you need a more rapid response.