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Call for JCMT Proposals for Semester 14A


Call for Proposals for Observing Time

Semester 14A

Submission Deadline:

For telescope time in Semester 14A (1st February - 30th September 2014) the closing date for receipt of proposals is

Tuesday 17 September 2013
23:30 CEST, 22:30 BST, 17:30 EDT, 14:30 PDT, 11:30 HST

(Applicants from the University of Hawaii have a different deadline).

NEWS for 14A

  • The JCMT Board decided at their meeting in June 2013, that semester 14A at JCMT is to be extended by two months beyond the end of a normal A-semester, to 30 Sep 2014. The amounts of JLS observing time and PI observing time will be in the ratio 75:25. This will provide the last opportunity to observe with JCMT under the present partnership.

  • Programmes that are unlikely to be completed before 30 September 2014 will be rejected during the review process.

  • Proposals recently granted long-term status into 14A do not need resubmitting.

  • Projects which request the heterodyne instruments and/or weather bands 4 and 5 are encouraged. Note that the SCUBA-2 JCMT Legacy Surveys require weather bands 1,2,3,4 at all RAs.

  • POL-2 and FTS-2
    POL-2 and FTS-2 are not being offered in this call. Commissioning of both instruments is still proceeding, but neither is sufficiently well characterized at this time. A Supplemental Call will be made on 01 October should that stage be reached, with a deadline for receipt of proposals of 15 October. Potential users are hereby alerted to this possible opportunity and are advised to prepare for the Supplemental Call.

  • The observatory anticipates an increased demand for regional service observing time as the end of the present operations approaches. In order to ensure fair comparative treatment of proposals, proposers are strongly encouraged to submit proposals now, rather than service observing proposals during the semester. The threshold for the approval of service proposals is expected to be very high and to favour new, short and self-contained, science.

Important Notes

  • Be sure to submit your proposal to the correct national queue.
    Submitting to the wrong queue may result in the rejection of the proposal.
  • Applicants are urged to itemize explicitly, in the Technical section of the proposal, their inputs to their integration time calculations. Output from the SCUBA-2 ITC can/should be copied&paste-d. This will allow the assigned Technical Assessor to confirm the proposal's feasibility.
  • The JCMT Board has decided that the science goals of
    • the JCMT Legacy Surveys (JLS), and
    • the Guaranteed Time (GT) for the SCUBA-2 commissioning team
    are to be protected from duplication. If proposed targets overlap with those in the programmes above - as determined using the Clash Detector - applicants should ensure that sufficient justification is given in the proposal as to how and why the proposed observations and science differ from these projects. See below for complete details on how to check for such overlap.
  • JCMT normally operates a 12-hour night, running from approximately 7:30pm to 7:30am HST. Earlier starts may compromise short-wavelength data. This table shows source transit times during semester A. The equivalent information for August and September may be found here.
  • Your proposal must specify the weather conditions (read opacity) that it requires or can tolerate.
    The amount of time available per weather/opacity band varies through the year.

Available Instrumentation and Observing Modes

Continuum Receivers -

  • SCUBA-2 (simultaneous 450µm & 850µm imaging)

Heterodyne Receivers - General status

Heterodyne Backend

Several modes of heterodyne observing and several switching schemes are supported and are described at

Calculating Integration Times

Integration time calculators or formulae are available, for

They should be used to calculate the integration time needed to reach a given RMS per channel or beam or output-map pixel as a function of receiver, frequency, observing mode, elevation and sky opacity.

The JCMT Observing Tool (JCMTOT) gives equivalent results for all instruments.

  • Overheads for pointing, focussing, and calibrations should not be added to the time request. These activities will be accounted for separately.

    Calibration observations (eg. focus, pointing, flux calibrators) and other unavoidable overheads (eg receiver tuning) are no longer charged to science projects and instead are charged to an observatory accounting code. There is therefore no need for applicants to provide calibration overhead estimates in their proposals.

    The observatory will perform regular and appropriate calibration observations to ensure that all science data obtained are sensibly calibrated.

    • Spectroscopically, this involves observations of one of our Spectral Line Standards at one of about ten different standard line frequencies . If your programme frequency is one of these, then you're decidely in luck. In any case, the calibration allows you to assess the performance of the instrument. We will perform such an observation at least once per programme unless a previous calibration is still appropriate, and more often if circumstances change or if more than a couple of hours pass.
    • For continuum work, continuum calibrators will be observed at both operational wavelengths of SCUBA-2 (450µm, 850µm) at appropriate times and airmass to meet the general needs of the science programmes.

    If a proposal demands more unusual or more frequent calibrations then this needs to be clearly stated in the proposal and the time for these calibrations requested explicitly. If you have queries about what our default calibrations might be or what extra overheads are generated by your calibration requirements please get in touch with us.

Avoiding conflicts with protected science

The JCMT Board has decided that the science goals of the JLS and GT projects are to be protected against duplication by PI projects, and that scientific merit should be the guiding principle in cases of overlap. No regions of the sky are off-limits, but PIs who submit proposals to observe fields or science claimed by the protected projects will be required to provide additional justification for so doing. If that justification is not provided or is insufficient, time will not be awarded. It is anticipated that time will normally be awarded to PIs in such cases only when the observations represent an extension of the protected projects: e.g., in depth, in area or in frequency. (Note that these rules do not apply to the University of Hawaii queue.)

Applicants may identify potential conflicts using a web-based Clash Detector tool. Note, however, that the tool reports only positional clashes. To determine whether a reported clash constitutes a real conflict a comparison should also be made with the project depths at

Availability of time and Opacity Statistics

After deduction of E&C and U.Hawaii allocations, and following the decision by the Board, 75% of the telescope time available in the 8-month-long semester 14A will be devoted to the JCMT Legacy Surveys, and 25% to PI programs. The hours available to do science in each national queue during the 8 months of 14A are likely to be as follows:


Summer months on Mauna Kea tend to be wetter than winter months. For how much time is generally available in certain weather bands at certain times of the year: click here (discussion reprinted from the Spring 2007 issue of the JCMT Newsletter). For example, during average winter months (Dec-April) 10-15% of the time is band 1, while in summertime the fraction is under 5%. Good weather is more frequent during El Nino. About 15% of the time we encounter band 5 weather, and as much again is lost entirely to bad weather.

Proposal Submission

Northstar is available for the 14A round. The Northstar, web-based proposal submission and management system was imported from ASTRON to JAC, and has handled recent proposal rounds. Poor server access for a small number of applicants in the initial rounds has been overcome; we urge applicants experiencing problems in submission to contact us as soon as possible. All users are advised to check and update your accounts. As mentioned in our Help page, you may, at first, have to accept the server certificate to gain access to Northstar. Except for the University of Hawaii, all proposals should be submitted


If you have a Northstar account already you can login using your username and password; new users should register first.

Help regarding the submission process is available here - - - and in our Help pages ! Results are sent to applicants following the national TAG meetings (which are usually in May or November) and after ratification at the ITAC meeting (June or December).

To Which Queue Should You Send Your Application?:

Proposals should be submitted to the United Kingdom-, the Canadian-, or the International- queue, depending on the primary funding agency of the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigators (CoIs):

  • If the PI is employed by a UK or Canadian institution then submit the proposal to the UK or Canadian queue respectively.
  • If the PI is not employed by a UK or Canadian institution, but at least one of the Co-Is is employed by an institution from one of these two countries, then submit the proposal to the national queue of the first-named of those Co-Is.
  • If neither the PI nor any of the Co-Is is employed by an institution in the UK or Canada, then the proposal must be submitted to the International queue.
  • Employees of the JAC are considered as 'International', unless they are the PI.
  • If you are in any doubt about where to submit, then please e-mail Iain Coulson.

Proposals sent to the wrong queue risk being rejected, as do proposals using font sizes smaller than those prescribed.

Observer Status and Flexible Observing

All queues now operate using dedicated observing blocks. The observer during these blocks is usually associated with one of the high-priority programmes to be observed, but is effectively running the entire (national) queue in a flexible manner. All applicants should anticipate the possibility that they may or may not be asked to be an observer for their national queue. Requests for 'classical' observer status should be explained in the "Scheduling Preferences" section of the proposal.

Flexible Scheduling

The overall philosophy of observing at JCMT is to match observing programmes to the weather; our Flexible Observing Guidelines are recommended reading for all visitors to JCMT observing in all queues (except Univ. of Hawaii).

The JCMT Users e-mail exploder:

From time to time, subscribers to the 'jcmt_users' email list will receive notices on the status of the JCMT, call for proposals, etc. To subscribe, please visit

And Finally:

If you've read all this and still have questions about the scheduling, the submission deadlines, the procedures, etc - please contact me.

Iain Coulson
JCMT Scheduler

Contact: Iain Coulson. Updated: Thu Aug 15 14:06:51 HST 2013

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