OPC and panel members recruitment

The latest guidelines from ESO due to the upcoming implementation of the dual-anonymous peer-review system are detailed at this URL. Please read carefully before submitting proposals and/or acting as member of the OPC.

During the ESO users committee meeting #39 (April 2015), a new procedure for nominating Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) members and panelists was approved to be implemented next year, but to be tested already for Period 97 (P97). Each national representative of the ESO users committee will provide the Observing Programmes Office (OPO) with a list of nominations of qualified astronomers within their own countries. These astronomers must be willing to serve as OPC and panel members. The final and official selection from the list is done by the ESO Nominating Committee. The complete details of this procedure together with the guidelines for nominating OPC and panel members, and the current structure of the OPC are available in this OPC Nomination Guidelines document (updated as of April, 2018).


All astronomers (both observers and theoreticians) that comply with the following conditions/criteria and that are eager to be part of the list of nominees should contact Nicolas Lodieu as soon as possible. 

  • Nominations must be provided purely based on scientific merit and expertise.
  • Nominated researchers must be active in their field (publications and conferences), have a good command of English and be suitable for constructive discussions in an international and multi-cultural environment.
  • Theoretical and experimental backgrounds are suitable (previous usage of ESO facilities is an asset).
  • Nominations for the Panels should include scientists with a level of seniority starting from senior post-docs.
  • Nominations for the OPC proper should include scientists with a level of seniority starting from assistant professor (or the equivalent).
  • Exceptions to the above two requirements can be considered in cases of promising, more junior researchers (minimum level PhD).
  • Nominations should represent the community in a homogeneous way (scientific areas and institutes, within a given country).
  • Care should be taken to ensure gender balance and diversity.
  • Nominations should only include scientists who – when approached by the users committee representative – agreed in principle to serve in the OPC and/or Panels.


The OPC consists of 13 Panels, each composed of 6 panel members, one of which is the Chair of the panel and as such a member of the OPC proper. There are two panels for category A (Cosmology and the intergalactic medium), three panels in B (Galaxies), four panels each in C (Interstellar medium, star formation and planetary systems), and four panels in D (Stellar evolution). In total, 78 referees are needed in the OPC/Panels composition. Every semester there is a turnover of 25 to 35 OPC/Panel members.

The OPC proper is composed of 13 Panel Chairs and 3 additional OPC members (in order for all scientific categories to be equally represented). The OPO also needs to select a couple of “members-at-large” among the panelists to replace OPC members that are conflicted during the discussion of Large Programmes.

The OPC chair is not a member of the Panels but is part of the OPC proper. The OPC chair is recommended by the Director for Science, and the ESO Council approves his/her appointment.


The OPC chair and Panel members are required to serve for two semesters (1 year). OPC proper members will serve for four semesters (2 years). Some Panel members are asked to serve a third period to keep some level of continuity and memory in the process. Occasionally and depending on their seniority, after having served in the Panels some Panel members may be asked to be part of the OPC proper.

New nominees must not be serving in the Panels or OPC at present or have served in the last five years.