TELESCOPE SCHEDULING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
The second part of the proposal zooms in on the specific subject of
the proposed observations. Which specific question do you want to
tackle with your proposal? The third part gives a brief non-technical
description of the proposed observations (the technical part is
addressed later) and explains how these observations answer the goal
of the proposal. It is important here to be both specific and
realistic. Thus to state that a measurement of the B-V color of the
target will determine the amount of dark matter in the Universe will
not impress the panel unless you are able to specify through which
steps you can do this. It is this part of the proposal which will to a
large extent determine your standing with the panel. A realistic
assessment of the expected results will show the panel that your
scientific judgment is sound; an exaggerated claim will not.
If the method of analysis and/or interpretation has been described in
an article, you may limit yourself to a brief outline, and provide a
reference for the full detail. If the article only exists as a
preprint, provide a web site or an ftp address where the preprint in
question can be obtained. The panel should be provided with enough
information to assess how reliable your proposed methods are.
Points of interest
When writing a proposal, it is advisable to keep in mind the following
- Who will be interested in your results?
Maybe only the proposer... but maybe all astronomers working on
the same object, on the same class of objects, and indeed maybe
many astronomers in different fields of interest. It is useful if
you assess this in the proposal. The wider the possible interest
in your results, the higher the ranking of your proposal.
- Do you have theoretical backup?
If so, the value of your proposal is enhanced. For example, if
your proposal aims to determine the element abundances in an M
dwarf or an S0 galaxy, it will be useful if you can show that you
have the ability to obtain theoretical line strengths as a
function of abundance. If you wish to determine the amount of
dark matter in a cluster of galaxies, it helps if you can show
that you have simulations which indicate that the proposed data
will suffice to do this.
- Are you capable of handling the data?
An indication of this is always useful; it is mandatory if the
data analysis is complicated and not straightforward. The best
way to show that you can do the job is to refer to your track
record in the form of earlier publications. If this doesn't
exist, because you are embarking on a new field, you may wish to
propose a pilot study first so as to be able to show your mettle.
You should show awareness of the statistical aspects of your
proposed observations. For example, if ten similar systems have
been observed, and you propose to observe number eleven, you must
assess how much can be learned from the one new system that
hasn't been learned yet from the previous ten. If a hundred
systems have been observed, and you propose to observe ten more,
you cannot claim that the statistics will be improved
dramatically, unless you show that the proposed targets cover a
range of parameters that is not well covered by the earlier
- Target selection
It is useful to explain why you selected your specific target(s).
For example, if you wish to determine the amount of dark matter
in the galaxy cluster Abell A2218, explain why this cluster is a
better target than other clusters. Possible answers to explore
- the galaxies in this cluster are bright and can be observed
in relatively short exposures
- many velocities have been measured already, to which your
data can be usefully added
- simulations show that the galaxies in this cluster are well
distributed to determine the dark matter distribution
- the amount of dark matter has already been determined with
another method, to which our results can be compared