Observing with SMARTS

The NOIRLab community (that is, anyone eligible to apply for time on any NOIRLab telescope) may apply for time on the SMARTS  telescopes through the standard NOIRLab proposal procedure. NOIRLab users are assigned approximately 15% of the total time the facilities are open, averaged over all telescopes.

Telescope Instrument Observing mode
SMARTS 1.5-meter
service/queue mode
SMARTS 1.3-meter
(none) available for new instrumentation as of August 2020
SMARTS 1.0-meter

Optical Imager

fully robotic
SMARTS 0.9-meter
2K Optical Imager classical observing, BVRI, ugriz, other filter combinations available


The Process of Applying

Choose the telescope and instrument combination

From the table above, select the appropriate telescope/instrument combination. Note that an instrument provided by a SMARTS Consortium member (e.g., at the 1.0m) may be dedicated mostly or entirely to a specific project, leaving little or no time for other users.

  • Precision photometry is best carried out on the 0.9m or 1.0m.
  • Wide-field imaging is best carried out on the 0.9m or 1.0m.
  • Precision astrometry is possible given the stability of the 0.9m instrument.
  • Narrow-band and unusual filters from the CTIO collection are most easily accomodated at the 0.9m.
  • High-resolution spectroscopy is done at the 1.5m.  Queue observing makes it possible to carry out short, medium, or long term programs.

Choose the observing mode and required time

Using estimates of exposure time, period coverage, number of targets, etc.

  • Imaging/photometry programs that require observer intervention, or for other reasons should be done in classical (visiting astronomer) mode, should be carried out on the 0.9m.  Note that at the 0.9m, you are the telescope operator. Mountain personnel will install your requested set-up in the afternoon and get you started operating the telescope in the beginning of the evening. If trouble occurs late at night, a limited amount of assistance can be called in, subject to aperture priority (which means that the 4m will be attended to first if it has trouble). New observers must arrive on the mountain at least one night early to familiarize themselves with the telescope, and if possible be accompanied by a veteran.
  • Synoptic observations can be carried out contemporaneously at the 0.9m or 1.0m for imaging and the 1.5m for spectroscopy.
  • Programs proposed to be done in service mode at the 1.0m (imaging) or 1.5m (spectroscopy) must be noted as such in the observing proposal.  In addition, detailed procedures for carrying out your service observations must be coordinated with the SMARTS Operations Managers (Todd Henry for the 0.9m and 1.5m, Tyler Linder for the 1.0m).
  • There is no Director's Discretionary time as such on SMARTS telescopes. However, there may be some time not allocated to primary programs.  Requests for this time may be submitted in accordance with the CTIO DD time policy. Requests supported by the CTIO Director are forwarded to the SMARTS staff as a secondary time projects. Note that a favorable decision by the CTIO Director does not automatically result in time awarded, because programs from SMARTS Consortium institutions must be considered.

If granted time

  • You will be contacted by SMARTS personnel to arrange your observations.  If you have not yet heard from someone a month before the beginning of the observing semester, please contact SMARTS Principal Scientist Todd Henry. It is best to get in touch well ahead of your run, so that everyone understands the procedures and special requirements, e.g., filters at the 0.9m. Keep in mind that graduate student SMARTS Fellows who are in charge of scheduling are carrying out the task on a part-time basis, and may not be as responsive as a dedicated operations crewmember.
  • If you are coming to Tololo in person, be sure to check  to fill out the Travel Information Questionnaire and the Visitor Support Questionnaire so that the CTIO travel and mountain personnel know you're coming, and what you need. Check the information at Planning, Executing, Wrapping up your run at CTIOYou should also review the details of operations, such as observing manuals, found at http://www.astro.gsu.edu/~thenry/SMARTS.
  • Please review the acknowledge page here.

Updated on May 27, 2021, 1:32 pm