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Semester 2018A

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This page provides instructions for completing Phase II Science Programs for all Gemini North and Gemini South instruments. It includes submission details and notes of any procedural changes. Please read this page carefully! Once your Phase II is ready you may find it helpful to read the what to expect once your observations are in the queue page.


The Phase II deadline of January 17, 2018 is a hard deadline for all queue and classical programs, including large programs. Failure to submit a defined program by the Phase II deadline will result in the program being canceled. Extensions are granted only in exceptional circumstances and only if requested prior to the deadline.

This mandatory deadline applies to all queue and classical programs including templates for Target of Opportunity observations. The mask design deadlines, listed in the Table at the bottom of this page, are more flexible, but we encourage PIs to submit their mask designs and final MOS observations as early as possible. In some cases GMOS PIs will be contacted directly and asked to submit their Phase II early to provide pre-imaging observations for MOS spectroscopy at the very start of the semester. In all cases it benefits programs with early targets to get their Phase II ready early, as some programs will be observed at the end of the previous semester to help fill the queue.

Change Requests

Target changes and other significant modifications to the original proposed observations require approval via the change request procedure. Changes to Gemini North or South laser targets must be made no later than 1 week prior to the start of each laser run, as shown in the Table at the bottom of this page. Observations must use the observing conditions constraints approved by the ITAC during the Phase I process. Band 3 programs must use the approved Band 3 conditions. It is always acceptable to relax the conditions, and more relaxed conditions lead to a higher probability of execution (see the advice for band 3 page for tips on how to maximize your chances of getting data). To change to better observing conditions than approved by the ITAC, or to add airmass or hour angle constraints, requires approval.

Phase II Support

All programs are assigned a Principal Support contact and one or several Additional Support contacts. Your program will be supported by a specialist in the instrumentation used by your program, who may or may not be in your home country's NGO. This change has been made in the interests of a more targeted use of NGO resources, and better initial support of PIs. While the Principal Support scientist is the first point of contact, please include all support scientists in your communications.

Note that we have seen issues in the past where forwarded email from an institutional address to a personal address has caused delivery issues, especially if forwarded to Yahoo or Gmail addresses. To mitigate this potential issue, if you are forwarding your institutional email, then please provide your alternate email address to your support scientists.

Distribution of Phase II Skeletons

Instructions on skeleton retrieval, including database program key passwords, were sent to PIs on December 15, 2017. A new version of the Observing Tool (OT) is available for Semester 2018A Phase II preparation. There are OT installation instructions available. If you are unfamiliar with the OT, there are OT video tutorials that provide a useful introduction. Instructions for obtaining a key and getting started with your program are found here. In addition, each instrument has an "Observation Preparation" section that provides guidance on observing strategies and how to describe these in the OT. The OT/Phase II checklist is another useful reference.

Approved Phase I observations have been used to construct template observations, including calibration observations, in the initial OT program. Support staff may have made some adjustments based on the OT example libraries. We recommend that you start the Phase II process using the template observations, but the libraries provide useful examples of full observations. Note that the OT cannot automatically check for new versions of the libraries, so we recommend that the libraries be fetched manually at the beginning of every Phase II preparation period.

All changes to programs are stored in your local OT. If you want the changes to be permanent, say for working with a collaborator or submitting the observations for review, then the program must be "synced" with the appropriate Observing Database. The Phase II workflow is described here

OT and Other Changes for 2018A

The principal changes to the OT software are listed on the OT Release Notes page. Other notable changes for 2018A are:

  • Queue programs are now numbered according to science band: Band 1: 101-199, Band 2: 201-299, etc.
  • No new programs will be given Roll-over status (previous Roll-over designations will be honored). Instead, Band 1 programs now have "fuzzy" semester boundaries. They are allowed to start as soon as observations are prepared in the previous semester and if they are not completed in the allocated semester then they will continue to be executed through the subsequent semester.


Remote Eavesdropping

If your program is in Scientific Ranking Band 1 or 2, and is not a GSAOI program, we invite you to participate in remote eavesdropping during the observation of your program at Gemini. Successful PIs will receive a link to a Google spreadsheet on which availability for eavesdropping can be indicated. The deadline for signing up for eavesdropping is January 17, 2018, although changes to your available dates may be made after that.

Classical and Priority Visitor Observer Programs

Please see the schedules page for the dates of your observing runs. Instructions for visiting observers can be found here. Information regarding your visit is required at least 4 weeks prior to the run.

Important Deadlines
Deadline Notes
Phase II deadline January 17, 2018 is the general deadline for all queue and classical programs. The observations must be set to "For Review" by 6pm at the site where the observations are being submitted.
MOS Mask Cut Deadlines

MOS Masks are currently being cut at Gemini South for both telescopes. Please allow an extra 10 days for delivery to Gemini North. We are planning to resume MOS mask cutting at Gemini North in 2018A.

The mask design and corresponding Phase II updates are submitted via the OT and then checked by the principal contact before being forwarded to the observatory. Mask designs are checked internally by Gemini staff for technical feasibility at least once per week before being forwarded to the Gemini South mask cutting queue. The time between mask design approval and mask availability for the telescope queue is normally less than 2 weeks for Gemini South and 3.5 weeks for Gemini North (due to mask shipping time). We strongly encourage all MOS PIs to submit their mask designs as early as possible (either at the start of the semester if not using GMOS pre-imaging or immediately after the pre-imaging is taken) in order to increase the chance that the MOS observations will be completed. Gemini reserves the right not to cut masks submitted within 6 weeks of the end of the semester if the queue coordinators determine that the MOS observations cannot be scheduled.

Be sure to use the latest version of the mask design software.

Classical and time-critical program PIs must ensure their mask designs have been submitted and cleared the design checks at least two weeks prior to their run or event at Gemini South, and 3.5 weeks prior to their run or event at Gemini North.

Note that all MOS observations must be defined by the Phase II deadline. Observations without masks will be reviewed and set to "On Hold" until the masks become available, at which time the PI will have a chance to make modifications if necessary.

Gemini North Altair LGS or Gemini South GeMS target list dates

Change requests for target additions and alterations for laser runs must be submitted no later than 1 week prior to the start of each laser run. Laser run dates are shown on the Gemini South telescope schedule. NOTE - Gemini North laser will not be available for regular observations in 2018A