Targets of Opportunity Overview

Overview

This page provides an overview of the SOAR Target of Opportunity policy, as well as some exceptions specific to the 2019A and 2019B observing semesters. A detailed description of the policy can be found in this document, which proposers should read before proposing. Some things to keep in mind:

  • The total number of authorized interrupts is limited, and, if necessary, allocated by SOAR partner.
  • The amount of time that can be used for an interrupt is limited to no more than 2.5 hours, including all night-time overheads.
  • Scheduled time-critical nights can be protected; such "protected nights" are infrequent but they do exist.
  • Differently from the NOAO ToO policy, ToO programs are responsible for supplying observers. Training can be provided as needed.

Questions regarding the policy can be sent to the director.

2019A and 2019B Special Policies

Given the high level of interest in following up gravitational wave events, SOAR has set aside a separate allocation for observations of these events, starting in semester 2018B. For each of 2019A and 2019B, up to 18 interrupts will be authorized, to be allocated between partners as needed, according to the same procedures as the standard policy linked above.
It is expected that this would support observation of 2-3 events per semester (based on SOAR's experience from last year, assuming similar brightness).
For 2018B, there are two competing groups of approved proposers. The adopted solution is to provide data to both groups while allowing either one to trigger an observation. In the event that there are two (or more) competing groups approved by the partners in 2019A, the same policy will be followed.

ToO Policy Review

Time-domain astronomy is a rapidly evolving field, and SOAR's ToO policy is expected to evolve as well. We will assess our experience with the current policy prior to the call for proposals for the 2020A semester. Comments from users (both ToO programs and classical programs) are encouraged.