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Semester 2014A

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!


Congratulations on being awarded observing time on Gemini. 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.

Deadlines and Mechanism for Specifying Science Programs

The mechanism for submitting your completed Phase II Science Program to the Gemini Observing Database is by using the Store command in the Observing Tool, and is the same for all instruments. The Phase II deadline of January 16, 2014 is a hard deadline for both queue and classical programs. Note that failure to submit a defined program by the Phase II deadline will result in the progam 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.

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 maximise 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.

Distribution of Phase II Skeletons

Instructions on skeleton retrieval, including database program keys, was sent to PIs on December 9, 2013. A new release of the Observing Tool (OT) is available for Semester 2014A Phase II preparation, do not use the previous public release. There are OT installation instructions available. If you are unfamiliar with the OT, there are OT video tutorials that provide a useful introduction. 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.

All observations must be defined using the OT software. Approved Phase I observations have been used to construct template observations in the Phase II format of the OT, including calibration observations. NGO staff may have made some adjustments based on the OT example libraries. Use these templates as the starting point for completing the Phase II observations, with reference to the OT libraries. Note that the OT cannot automatically check for new versions of the libraries. We recommend that the libraries be fetched manually at the beginning of every Phase II preparation period.

OT and Other Changes for 2014A

The principal changes to the OT software are listed on the OT Release Notes page.  The 2014A OT has significant changes compared to the previous version so we encourage everyone to review the web pages and video tutuorials. The major changes are:

  • The use of passwords to access programs has been simplified by the use of authentication keys. These are requested once per OT and then they are saved until reset or the OT is upgraded. Old program passwords are still valid. There is a new type of user key based on email addresses that gives access to all programs that include a given address.
  • Fetch/Store has been replaced with a more robust sync mechanism. The old fetch/store and open program dialogs have been merged.
  • Program navigation has been changed and improved. Prev and Next buttons move to the previous and next programs in the list of programs loaded into the current Science Program editor. The Back and Forward buttons follow the navigation history of the visible program. 
  • The Observation Status (Phase 2, For Review, etc) has been split into a Phase 2 Status (Phase 2 to Prepared, and Inactive) and Exec Status (Ready to Observed).

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 16, 2014, although changes to your available dates can be made after that.


Phase II deadlines for all instruments (all 6pm local time)
Deadline Notes
16 January 2014 Mandatory deadline for all queue and classical programs.
MOS Mask Cut Deadlines

MOS Masks are nominally cut at Gemini South for both telescopes. Please allow an extra 10 days for delivery to Gemini North. There are no plans to resume regular mask cutting at Gemini North.

The mask design and corresponding Phase II updates are submitted via the OT and then checked by the NGO 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 NGO 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 for queue programs 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 NGO 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 and LGS or Gemini South GeMS targets 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 North telescope schedule and the Gemini South telescope schedule.