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Target-of-Opportunity and Monitoring programs 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 Programs 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 program 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 program.

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 programs are scheduled on specific dates, and visiting astronomers might be asked to participate in the execution of these programs, where you will be informed in advance of this is the case.

When approving these type of programs, the NOT Council fully realised that such interruptions are made at the expense of other valuable, approved scientific projects. The criteria for approval of especially ToO programs 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 program affected by ToO or Monitoring observations are offered full compensation of the observing time lost in service mode. This also applies in case an observer in Spanish time accepts to do ToO observations for a program approved for Nordic time (see "Current ToO and Monitoring programs" linked below). Specific observations can be requested through our Fast-Track Service Program, which we then will execute in service mode during Nordic service nights.

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

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

    Rules for Target-of-Opportunity programs 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 program for a specific period at a time. Only the PI of an approved ToO program or her/his deputy is authorised to contact the NOT observer directly.
    2. Each ToO program 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 program in a given night, their order of priority follows that in which the ToO programs appear in the list of Current ToO and Monitoring programs. The total amount of time taken up by ToO programs 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 programs. By accepting the allocated observing period at the NOT, observers accept to perform these programs according to the present rules.
    5. ToO programs approved by NOT are authorised to interrupt other observations during any observing run, except for Spanish time, i.e., proposal numbers in the range 200-299. In particular, there is no direct right to request ToO observations in Spanish time, but of course the PI is free to contact the observer, and ask (where the rules as for payback apply as in Nordic time; see above).
    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, NOT

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

    Back to top Last modified: May 31 2023