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Target-of-Opportunity and Monitoring programmes at NOT

A class of research projects concerns objects which appear unpredictably and fade rapidly - "Targets of Opportunity" (ToO). A few of these have been judged by the NOT Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) to be of sufficiently high scientific merit that they have been awarded "ToO status" at the NOT. This privilege implies that the Principal Investigator (PI) of such a programme is authorised, within specified conditions, to contact the observer at the NOT and request that an approved set of observations of a target from the approved list be executed within a delay specified for each programme.

There are also projects which study objects that require regular, but infrequent `monitoring' observations. Often these require relatively little observing time, but are spread in time such that it is impractical to execute the observations in visitor mode. Observations for these kinds of programmes are scheduled on specific dates, and visiting astronomers might be asked to participate in the execution of these programmes, where you will be informed in advance of this is the case.

When approving these type of programmes, the NOTSA Council fully realised that such interruptions are made at the expense of other valuable, approved scientific projects. The criteria for approval of especially ToO programmes are therefore particularly strict. The hope is that, in this way, we may enable Nordic teams to carry out some truly unique science justifying the inconvenience to others. Progress will be closely monitored to ensure that this remains the case.

Note that any observing programme affected by ToO or Monitoring observations are offered full compensation of the observing time lost in service mode. Specific observations can be requested through our Fast-Track Service Programme, which we then will execute in service mode during Nordic service nights.

A full list of all ToO and Monitoring programmes in order of priority can be found here:

  • Current ToO and Monitoring programmes
  • NB: During period 58, no ToO override is permitted during transit/eclipse/phase angle observations for programs P54-502, P58-002, P58-019, P58-031 and P58-503 (see the telescope schedule for specific dates and times).

    If you execute any of the Target-of-Opportunity or Monitoring programmes, you must fill out a ToO/Mon Report form linked from the list of programmes. This must be done before filling out the End-Of-Night report.

    Rules for Target-of-Opportunity programmes at the NOT

    The relationships between the NOT Observer, the PI, and the NOT staff are defined by the following rules:

    1. ToO status is awarded only upon explicit application and review by the OPC and is given to a specific programme for a specific period at a time. Only the PI of an approved ToO programme or her/his deputy is authorised to contact the NOT observer directly.
    2. Each ToO programme is awarded a fixed number of alerts per period, with agreed amounts of time to be devoted to the ToO at each alert, as well as a total time limit per semester.
    3. In case of alerts by more than one programme in a given night, their order of priority follows that in which the ToO programmes appear in the list of Current ToO and Monitoring programmes. The total amount of time taken up by ToO programmes in a given night is limited to three (3) hours, unless the observer accepts an extension. During Technical or Nordic service nights up to half the night can be dedicated to ToO observations.
    4. The NOT Director will inform all observers at the NOT of the existence of approved ToO programmes. By accepting the allocated observing period at the NOT, observers accept to perform these programmes according to the present rules.
    5. ToO programmes approved by NOT are only authorised to interrupt other observations during the share of the time allocated by NOT, i.e., any observing run for programs with proposals numbers in the range 001-199; in Spanish (200-299) or IAC-Nordic time (300-399), the PI is free to contact the observer, but is not entitled to demand his/her cooperation.
    6. If any questions of doubt arise concerning the interpretation of these rules in specific situations, the NOT Director or his/her delegate is authorised to decide the issue.
    7. Thomas Augusteijn
      Director, NOTSA

    If you have any further questions concerning the programmes, please contact NOT staff or the PI's.