CFHT Large Programs

The next call for Large Programs at CFHT will open on February 1st, 2018.
The deadline for Letters of Intent is February 15, 2018 at 23:59 UT

Approximate schedule:

  • February 1, 2018: LP proposal opening
  • February 15, 2018: Deadline for letters of intent
  • March 31, 2018: LP proposal deadline
  • June 15, 2018: LP rankings by National TACs
  • June 21, 2018: LP TAC meeting
  • June 30, 2018: SAC telecon for LP selection
  • Mid July 2018: BoD time allocation

  • Non-binding letters of intent

    Letters of intent (LOIs) of one page in length are to be submitted to CFHT by sending an email to by February 15, 2018. These letters are an important step in developing an LP Evaluation Panel. The letters should also contain a brief description of the science to be proposed, the instruments requested as well as a first order estimate of the number of nights that you plan to request. A complete list of collaborators is required and the page limit can be exceeded to provide it. These letters are non-binding so they will not be used for proposal evaluation.

    Large Program definition

    A Large Program proposal must request at least 50 nights of observing time on CFHT. From a total of 400 nights of total allocation from France and Canada (plus potential contributions by other partners), at least 300 nights will be allocated to SPIRou. Within the total time requested, the observing plan must be able to obtain all the requested data in no more than eight semesters. The plan must also contain a baseline plan and contingency plan for degraded performances. The proposals should specifically discuss their robustness to such changes, especially for the SPIRou proposals where the performance of the instrument at the time of the call for proposals is incomplete.

    For scheduling purposes, Large Programs are considered a separate Agency at CFHT. The amount of time allocated each semester is split into A (higher) and B (lower) priority time along the ratio 40%(A) and 60%(B), and LP observations will be carried out with the same A/B observing priority policy as is applied to all other Agencies. This arrangement spreads the risk associated with weather and telescope problems equally between regular and Large Programs. Additionally, the proposed LPs should consider spreading their target RAs throughout the year and requesting observing conditions that are not overly constraining. Historically, the average completion fraction for Large Programs at CFHT is above 80%, but some programs - particularly those with stringent requirements - have had lower completion fractions. LP time allocations are not carried forward from one semester to the next.

    Proposal submissions

    Proposals are submitted using the NorthStar proposal system hosted by CFHT and need to be submitted to the Large Program agency. All five instruments are available for this call: MegaCam, WIRCam, ESPaDOnS, SITELLE and SPIRou and more than one instrument can be used for the same proposal. Proposals have to use the following conversion for the number of hours per night for each instrument:

    • MegaCam: 5.5 hours/night
    • WIRCam: 5.0 hours/night
    • ESPaDOnS: 7.5 hours/night
    • SITELLE: 6.5 hours/night
    • SPIRou: 7 hours/night (estimate)

    Note that while time request in Northstar are in hours, the final allocation of a LP, if accepted, will be in nights, in order to absorb any variations of the observing efficiency.

    The proposals should contain:

    • A table showing the distribution of time among semesters and agencies.
    • A scientific Justification: up to 8 pages + 3 pages of figures and references.
    • A technical Justification - 3 pages. The technical justification must also include details about the 2018B observing plan.
    • Discussion of the program robustness to a reduced data acquisition rate or to evolving instrumental performances.
    • Data Management plan - including real-time analysis requirements, a data-analysis plan, a description of available resources and proposed proprietary periods. Up to 3 pages


    RA distribution of targets

    Please enter 6 targets in Northstar that represent the RA distribution of your science targets. Use the RA bins 00-04 hrs, 04-08 hrs, 08-12 hrs, 12-16 hrs, 16-20 hrs and 20-24 hrs as names and the midpoint of the RA range as the RA coordinate. Also, use the Comments field to specify the number of hours per RA bin. You can ignore the Moon phase, Seeing, Magnitude, S/N and Diameters entries. An example of the targets table needed is given below.

    Example table of RAs
    Example of a table of RA pressure in Northstar (Click to enlarge).

    Target list

    A CSV file containing a representative (and, if possible, complete) list of targets must be uploaded at this URL. The URL is also available from the submission form in Northstar. The columns of the CSV file must be: Target_name, RA, DEC, approximate exposure time. This list will likely be used in the future to reserve targets for observations.


    Large Programs requesting SPIRou

    SPIRou early science performances will mostly be known from lab tests at the time of submitting the proposal. Proposers can refer to this page for their strategy and technical justification, which reflects the best of our knowledge on the instrument behavior. On-sky performances will be added on this page as they become available.

    Large Programs requesting SITELLE

    Proposals requesting SITELLE must include an analysis of the impact of the optical distortion seen on the edge of the field on the science they intend to conduct.

    Proprietary Periods

    - Participating community access:

  • The default is that all members of a participating community to a LP (i.e. allocating observing time to the LP) will have immediate access to the data through the CADC.
  • The PI may propose to retain the usual one year proprietary period for participating community access (or any other period not to exceed one year from the time the last data is acquired, as is the case for any PI program).
  • - World Access

  • The default is the standard one year proprietary period after the end of each semester for the duration of the LP.
  • The PI may request, with justification, that world-access be denied for an extended period not to exceed one year after the last data in the LP is acquired.
  • Multi-Agency Proposals

    If you intend to submit a joint proposal between two or more Agencies or partner communities, you are required to distribute the total amount of hours requested among the participants. This distribution should be made according to the relative scientific contribution from each community in your collaborative team. In other words, it is up to you as PI to assess this distribution. You will find on the summary form a section "Hours per agency" where this distribution has to be made. The National TACs of any named community will be given that proposal and asked to comment on scientific value and confirm their willingness to contribute time to the Large Program agency.

    Selection process

    The Large Program evaluation committee will consider the scientific merit of the proposals, the feasibility of the observations at CFHT, the robustness of the proposed program to possible schedule and performance changes and a resulting extension beyond eight semesters, the data and project management plans, and the capability of the team to handle the data reduction and scientific analysis. Other factors which will be taken into account in the selection process and that need to be addressed in the proposal include the risks associated with incomplete data collection (potentially linked to overloading an instrument or requesting too large a fraction of some observing conditions), the willingness of the LP team to provide immediate data access to the CFHT community, the potential use for the data beyond the main scientific goals of the LP, the potential legacy value of the data acquired, and the inter-Agency nature of the LP team. All necessary calibration data outside of the standard CFHT calibration procedures should be requested as part of the original LP allocation. Please contact CFHT for more details on standard calibrations for each instruments.

    It is important that proposing teams seek the advice of CFHT on the evaluation of risk.