Call for Proposals

Guidelines for Keck and MMT Proposals for Northwestern Observers Semester 2020B

Important Dates

Deadline for proposal submission: Monday, April 20, 2020 at 5 PM CDT

Start of semester: August 1, 2020
End of semester: January 31, 2021

PIs of recommended proposals will be notified on or before May 31, 2020.

Total number of nights available on Keck: 4 (Keck 1: 0D, 2G, 0B; Keck 2: 0D, 0G, 2B)
Total number of nights available on MMT: 7


  • CIERA Astronomy faculty, postdocs, and graduate students (current 3rd years and above) are eligible to apply for time.
  • PIs must be affiliated with CIERA at the time when the observations for the proposal are carried out.

Considerations for Proposers

  • It is the responsibility of the proposers to familiarize themselves with the facility capabilities and observing policies (see last bullet of this section, as well as the Observing Links at bottom of page).
  • For classically-scheduled time that requires travel, the observations must be carried out by a CIERA PI or Co-I.
  • For queue-scheduled time that does not require travel, the observations must be coordinated and submitted by a CIERA PI or Co-I.
  • The proposers are responsible for all expenses related to observing runs. CIERA will not provide funds to support these expenses.
  • First-time Keck observers for a particular instrument are required to observe from the headquarters facility in Waimea, Hawaii. Experienced observers for a particular instrument are allowed to observe from selected remote observing sites around the country, upon availability. More information on the Keck observing policy.
  • NEW: The remote observing room (ROR) is available in CIERA in 2020B for all certified observers. A separate page with ROR guidelines will become available by the start of 2020B.

Proposal Guidelines

  • Applicants can submit no more than 3 proposals as PI to a given facility (e.g., Keck or MMT).
  • If an applicant submits more than one proposal as PI to a given facility, the PI is required to rank the proposals in order of importance (with “1” being the most important), as designated in the proposal submission form.
  • Graduate student PIs must have their thesis advisor fill out and sign the designated Advisor Approval form. A valid Advisor Approval form must be submitted with each proposal by the submission deadline in order for the proposal to be considered.
  • The minimum request for a given facility is 0.5 night.

Proposal Format and Templates

All proposals must include a scientific justification (2 pages) and figures (1 page). References must be included in the 3-page limit. Please use the latex templates provided below.

All relevant sub-sections listed in the latex templates, along with the thesis Advisor Approval form (applicable to graduate student PIs only) must be completed. Facility-specific proposal templates and class files are available here:

*Compiles with standard AASTEX

In addition, Keck proposers must create an observatory login and fill out a cover sheet. A PDF copy of the cover sheet must be attached to any submitted Keck proposal.

*Must compile with this class file

Proposal Check-list

  • Scientific justification (2 pages) + figures (1 page); references included
  • All relevant sub-sections including target list, technical justification, as specified in latex templates
  • Advisor Approval form, filled, signed, exported to PDF (Graduate student PIs only)
  • Cover sheet
    • MMT proposals: Included in latex template
    • Keck proposals: Create log-in and fill out.
      1. Once on your Observatory Login homepage, under Proposal Cover Sheets, select “Submit a New Cover Sheet”
      2. Fill out the Cover Sheet and hit “Submit”.
      3. Return to Observatory Login homepage. Your cover sheet should now appear as an item below Proposal Cover Sheets.
      4. Click “Display this cover sheet”. Save as a PDF file.
      5. Append cover sheet at the beginning to the rest of the proposal

Proposal Submission

Every proposal must be submitted as a single PDF file to the proposal submission page. In addition, for MMT proposals, please also submit the .tex version of your proposal to this page. The deadline for consideration for 2020B is April 20 at 5 PM CDT.

Observing Links

Keck 2020B instrument availability and considerations:

MMT 2020B instrument considerations:
MMTCam: MMTCam should only be used for ToO imaging projects, and projects that require shallow u band imaging. Note that there is no guiding with MMTCam. Non-ToO imaging projects, particularly those needing deep exposures, should use Binospec, where guiding is possible and the noise is much lower. ToO projects can of course use Binospec, and indeed current ToO projects have time assigned on both instruments.
MMT Red Channel: We suggest that observers compare the throughputs of Red Channel and Binospec and make their decisions.

After Your Run

When you have results from your observations:

  1. Include the following line in any paper acknowledgements
    W. M. Keck Observatory [and/or MMT Observatory] access was supported by Northwestern University and the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).
  2. Email Gretchen Oehlschlager ( with a link to the paper and any other publicity (e.g. press releases) that results from the work.

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