DKIST Observing Proposal Exercise

DKIST Observing Proposal

Here’s an exercise for you to work on over the next couple of weeks. You will work in groups to develop an observing proposal that uses DKIST spectropolarimetric observations and the spectropolarimetric diagnostics learned in this school, to investigate a subject of your choice.

There will be a talk about DKIST and its first-light instruments on Tuesday afternoon. You will learn about its instruments, their design and their capabilities. You may use that as a starting point for the technical details of your proposal. However, you don’t have to use DKIST alone -- we encourage you to use multiple facilities/telescopes simultaneously whenever the scientific needs of your proposal require you to do so.

At the end of the 2 weeks of the school, we will ask you to present (in 5-10 minutes) your observing proposal to your peers. You can prepare slides and use the projector, if you choose to do so. During the presentation, anybody in the audience will have a chance to ask you questions about the technical details of the observations, your chosen analysis methods and the general feasibility of your project.


These are some things that you may want to consider when putting together your proposal. You may not know how to answer some of these questions at the moment, but as the school progresses, you will have enough material to put together a great observing proposal:

  1. Get to know your group. What scientific interests does each member of the group have? Discuss the scientific topic you’d like to address with this observing proposal. Think big, include and connect the areas of interest of the different group members.

  1. Think of an appealing title.

  1. Write a scientific justification:

    1. what’s the scientific context and motivation?

    2. Is this a novel idea/approach/observation?

    3. What’s the feasibility and the chances of success?

    4. Are you testing a new technology?

    5. Justify the need for using the instruments/telescopes requested in the proposal

    6. etc..

  1. Plan your observations.

    1. What is your target?

    2. What kind of observations do you need?

    3. What telescopes and instruments will you be using and in what modes? Joint programs with multiple ground- or space-based telescopes are encouraged.

    4. What kind of spatial, spectral and temporal resolution will you need? What polarimetric sensitivity? What field-of-view?

  1. Observing conditions:

    1. How long of an observing run do you need?

    2. How important is it that your joint observations with other telescopes are simultaneous?

    3. What atmospheric conditions do you require? (Clouds, seeing, etc)


  1. Physical quantities

    1. What physical quantities do you expect to get from each one of your observables?

    2. How are you planning on analyzing the data?

    3. What tools/methods will you use to do the analysis and how do you plan to use them?