Lick Target of Opportunity (ToO) Policy

At the Fall 2012 UCO Advisory Committee meeting there was an extensive discussion of the UC Target of Opportunity (ToO) rules for Lick Observatory-based observations. At the end of the discussion, the committee voted in favor of having the Lick policy mirror the policy of UC at the Keck Observatory. To remind you, the current Keck policy for UC is described as follows:

“The UCOAC voted on and approved a proposal that all UC programs allocated at least one night of observing time will be subject to donating up to one hour of each night to approved ToO programs. The observers will be able to briefly negotiate when to take the observations (e.g., to delay until completion of a current exposure, if necessary), but they are discouraged from questioning the scientific merits of these TAC-approved programs. The one hour per night is actual clock time from the termination of the observer’s own program and includes the overhead for the observer to configure the instrument for the ToO observation and to reconfigure the instrument to resume the normal program. Coauthorship on a resulting paper will be offered to the observer. This policy will start in Semester 2011A. The TAC will recommend a specific number of maximum hours for approved ToO programs and the actual interrupts will be tracked each semester.”

In summary the policy is:

  • A ToO program may request up to 1hr of clock time.
  • The interrupt is mandatory but the execution time may be discussed.
  • The observer is only required to execute one ToO program per night (the first program to request).
  • Co-authorship must be offered to the observing team.

This policy applies for the classically scheduled telescopes, e.g. Shane and Nickel.    A separate policy for the queue schedule ToO program on the APF has been established.

In 2021 we established an alternative model for Nickel Telescope ToO programs. These are full night interrupts with the interrupted observer having access to a future night. This was developed to support GRB follow-up but could be generalized. The ToO PI must be explicitly clear in their Nickel proposal if this is for full night or 1 hour interrupts. Full night interrupts will not be allowed on nights with specialty instrumentation, education or EPO programs although the interrupt may be allowed after the class or EPO program has completed their work, e.g. the second half of the night.