Yesterday was the “Phase 2″ deadline for VLT observations. This means that astronomers with programs granted the use of the telescopes had to submit their observing details before yesterday, and I suddenly got a whole heap of emails!
The Phase 1 was where the astronomers submitted a project proposal for observations. Those proposals were reviewed by an expert committee and then the highly ranked proposals where granted use of the telescopes. Almost always the number of proposals wanting to use telescope time is much more than the available number of nights. So if your proposal did get granted time on the VLT- that is something to be proud of!
So now in Phase 2, those programs granted telescope time have to submit the details of the actual observations to be carried out. The deadline for that was yesterday and every time a program was submitted, the corresponding User Support astronomer gets an email alert. Earlier I mentioned what a USD astronomer does… Of course most people submit their stuff at the last minute, so I suddenly get a bunch of emails saying the programs I am supporting have submitted their observation details and now I must review them.
I actually managed to complete reviewing all but one program by 5pm today. I was happy with this achievement since it is my first time doing this. The deadline for us USD astronomers is to have all the submitted data checked and ready to be observed at the telescopes before the period starts – which is by 1st April. So I have plenty of time to finish the rest, but I prefer to have this out of the way as much as possible so that I can return to focusing on my own research afterwords. Even after this Phase 2 stage, I will have to follow the progress of each program during the period as they are being observed at the telescopes…so expect more on this throughout the year.