The ESO and ESO-ALMA Users Committee (UC) mid-term meeting took place on 29 November 2019.

National representatives met via telecon.

From January 2020, Nicolas Lodieu (IAC, Tenerife) replaces Maria Rosa Zapatero Osorio (CAB) as the new ESO UC Spanish representative.

The most relevant points treated during this ESO and ESO-ALMA UC mid-term meeting are the following:

  • ESO is going ahead with the implementation of the “distributed peer review” (DPR) system for a fraction of the proposals (ALMA is already applying this system). The DPR will be most likely deployed for the Fast Track Channel (FTC). It is expected that the DPR is deployed in one year from now (likely for the P107 call for proposals).
  • Here are two main aspects of the DPR that you should be aware of:
    – All PIs of submitted proposals for a particular period will have to act as reviewers (the number of proposals is not defined yet, probably between ~8 and ~20 per PI and per submitted proposal), and about 3-4 weeks time will be given for the evaluation.
    – The policy will be that if the PI declines acting as a reviewer or fails to comply with the deadlines, his/her PI-ed proposals will be rejected.
  • ESO notes that users who require real-time (scale of a few minutes), consistent feedback from reduced data to optimize their observing strategy should opt for classical visitor mode instead of designated visitor mode. At present, there is no rapid mechanism to transfer the acquired data from the Observatory to “our” computers in designated visitor mode.
  • ESO is urgently requesting new nominees for the OPC from Spain. You may be contacted you soon

The ESO and ESO-ALMA Users Committee (UC) meeting number 43 was held in Garching on April 29-30, 2019. National representatives met face-to-face with ESO and ALMA heads of departments and with ESO Director General (DG) to advise the DG on matters pertaining to the performance, scientific access, operations and data management facilities of the La Silla Paranal Observatory and ALMA.

The recommendations made by the UC are now available.

These are some highlights of the UC meeting 43 (UC43) that ESO and ESO-ALMA users should be aware of:

  • ESO has released a “code of conduct” focused on workshops, conferences, visiting astronomers, and visiting astronomers to ESO Observatory sites. All of you should carefully read the code of conduct, particularly if you are visiting ESO sites or attending ESO workshops and conferences.
  • As of P103, all target of opportunity (ToO) triggers must be done via the p2 tool.
  • La Silla remote observing, eavesdropping will be implemented by the end of 2019.
  • There is a new p1 tool. Proposals for P105 (next Call for Proposals, September 2019) will be submitted using this new p1 tool. Web-based user-facing front-end features allow:
    • to edit collaboratively the proposal,
    • to correct an already submitted proposal (before the deadline),
    • to visualised at a glance the visibility of a target and the probability or realisation of the requested observations,
    • to retrieve target information directly from Simbad database.
  • The new p1 tool has been deployed for DDT proposals since April 1st (P103). It will give support to all proposals as of P104. BE READY! There is a demo: https://www.eso.org/p1demo
  • Additional features, e.g., inclusion of the ETC and OPC handling, will be included in the next future.
  • ESO OPC. All ESO users should be aware that triage of submitted proposals is now based on the votes of 3 reviewers (this does not apply to ALMA proposals). ESO triaged proposals can be resurrected by any panel member at any time at the beginning of the OPC face-to-face meeting.
  • Distributed peer review proposal (DPR) system. The experiment carried out in September-October 2018 was successful. ESO will release a paper describing the procedure and results. For further details, contact your national UC representative.
  • In response to UC recommendations from previous meeting (UC42), please read the document “ESO replies to the recommendations made by the UC meeting 42nd“.
  • Next chair of the UC is Lise Christensen (Denmark representative).

The summary of the Spanish requests for improvement are given in this document.

Here you can find the agenda of the ESO Users Committee (UC) 43rd meeting.

Access to presentations is given next. For those non-available presentations, contact your national representative at the UC:

The ESO and ESO-ALMA Users Committee (UC) meeting number 42 was held in Garching on April 26-27, 2018. National representatives met face-to-face with ESO and ALMA heads of departments and with ESO Director General (DG) to advise the DG on matters pertaining to the performance, scientific access, operations and data management facilities of the La Silla Paranal Observatory and ALMA.

The recommendations made by the UC are now available.

Also available are the minutes of the meeting.

These are some highlights of the UC meeting 42 that ESO and ESO-ALMA users should be aware of:

  • ESO users should become familiar with the recommendations made by the designated Time Allocation Working Group (see report). This report is available to you since last year’s UC meeting 41st.
  • UC feedback on ESO Time Allocation Working Group report.
  • As of P104, Large Programs will be offered once per year.
  • Shift to 1 year proposal cycle + continuos (monthly or bimonthly) call for proposals (TBD timescale).
  • ESO is no longer funding a second observer to Paranal o La Silla. The eavesdropping solution is now operating normally in Paranal and will be implemented soon in La Silla. Eavesdropping can be combined with the delegated visitor mode option.
  • Direct intercontinental trips to Paranal offered now on more regular basis. PLEASE, INDICATE THIS IN THE TRAVEL REQUEST FORM.
  • Instruments pipelines are updated in April in a yearly basis.
  • Since 2017, the following statement holds: “In general, the Observatory does not compensate for weather or technical losses occurred during visitor mode observations. Only in very exceptional cases, if a close-to-total loss (>2/3 of the total program time) occurs for technical reasons, compensation may be considered by the Director”.
  • ESO recommends to submit larger normal proposals and proposals with strong sky quality requirements (see call for proposals for further details).
  • ESO needs more senior OPC and Panel nominations from some state members. Please, read this for further information.
  • The new Phase 2 tool (currently only active for visitor mode) will be fully deployed in P102 (summer 2018) and P2PP3 will be decommissioned by the end of 2018.
  • ALMA: the European “science” productivity (number of European-led papers over total papers) is 42%, which is excellent.
  • ALMA: only 66% of A and DDT proposals of cycle 4 were completed. ALMA is working on improving this completion rate (goal is 80%).
  • In response to UC recommendations from previous meeting, please read the document “ESO replies to the recommendations made by the UC meeting 41st“.
  • Next chair of the UC is Karina I. Caputi (The Netherlands representative).

Here you can find the agenda of the ESO Users Committee (UC) 42nd meeting.

Presentations and ESO annual reports prepared in pdf format are also available next:

The ESO and ESO-ALMA Users Committee (UC) meeting number 41 was held in Garching on May 9-10, 2017. The recommendations made by the UC and the minutes of the UC 41st meeting are available here.

ESO replies to the recommendations made by the UC during meeting 40th.

Some particular notes taken during the ESO and ESO-ALMA UC 41st meeting that you should be aware of are the following:

  • ESO has asked the Users Committee (UC) to promote the visitor mode observations, particularly at the VLT/Paranal. All users are encouraged to submit their proposals asking for visitor observations in next periods.
  • The new web-based Phase 2 is now operational in visitor mode. It will be operational for service/queue mode by the end of this year. It includes an eavesdropping capability that is planned for P100 (see the Report on La Silla Paranal).
  • ESO is working on a new concept for Phase 1 (no latex file, web-based). See the UC recommendations document for further details.
  • As for visitor observing time lost due to technical downtime, ESO has added the following formulation in their visitor info page: “In general, the Observatory does not compensate for weather or technical losses occurred during visitor mode observations. Only in very exceptional cases, if a close-to-total loss (>2/3 of the total program time) occurs for technical reasons, compensation may be considered by the Director”.
  • There are two reports which the UC has been asked to comment on. They were prepared by the Science Data Management Working Group and by the Time Allocation Working Group (go to page 23 of this document). If you also want to comment on the original documents, do not hesitate to contact me at any time for having access to the full text documents.
  • ESO has declined to make the abstracts of approved La Silla and Paranal proposals public: “This recommendation was discussed with the Director General and the Director for Science. They are not in favour of proceeding along the line proposed by the UC, because it gives an unfair competitive advantage to non-ESO astronomers with access to fast-turnaround time on e.g. Gemini and Keck. No compelling arguments were provided as to why it is important to anticipate the release of the abstracts, given the above concern. With ALMA this can be done, in principle because there is no other facility than can compete“.
  • Next chair of the UC is Olivier Absil.

Here you can find the agenda of the ESO Users Committee (UC) 41st meeting.

Presentations and ESO annual reports prepared in pdf format are also available next.

Page updated: Oct 4th, 2017.

The mid-term ESO’s Users Committee (UC) meeting (continuation of meeting #40) took place by teleconference on Oct 21st, 2016. The meeting lasted for 1.5 h. The minutes of the meeting are available in this pdf file.

Please, note that there are progress and comments made by ESO Director General and the Director for Science on some of the recommendations made by the Spanish community during the ESO UC meeting #40. Should you have further responsive comments that must be discussed in the next UC meeting (April 2017), let me know by email.

In preparation for the next ESO UC meeting that will be held in May 9-10, 2017, the following special topic was proposed: “Multi-object spectroscopy at ESO”.

Page updated: Jan 11th, 2017.

The final minutes of the 40th ESO and ESO-ALMA Users Committee (UC) are available here as a pdf document. It includes the discussion between ESO representatives and the ESO Member State representatives as well as the recommendations made by the UC during the meeting that took place in ESO headquarters in Garching bei München in April 18-19, 2016.

Some notes taken during the meeting (not announced in the last Call for Proposals) are the following:

  • There is a new ephemeris file generator tool available on ESO web site.
  • The questionnaire (“PNPP survey”) to understand why a significant fraction of observed proposals did not produce refereed papers after 10 years is now underway. It is not anonymous.
  • The Exposure Time Calculators have been upgraded. One can upload his/her own  spectral templates (one of the recommendations made by the Spanish community).
  • There is a new Atmospheric Site monitor in Paranal in operations since Apr 3rd, 2016. The new DIMM tower is to provide more reliable optical seeng estimates. The fits header keywords showing the data are: TEL.AMBI.FWHM.START/END.
  • ESO is working on implementing the Phases 1 and 2 of proposal submission procedure. Expected completion in ~3 years.
  • ESO is continuously releasing reduced data from Public Surveys and Large Programs. ATLASGAL (APEX Large Area Survey of the Galaxy) was released in Feb 2016.

The National Representatives were asked to provide ESO with more researchers willing to act as OPC and Panel members. Particularly, the Spanish community must provide an updated list of eligible astronomers:

 

Here you can find the agenda of the ESO Users Committee (UC) 40th meeting.

Presentations and ESO annual reports prepared in pdf format are also available next, including the report on the Observing efficiency on Paranal upon request by the Users Committee:

Finally, the ESO Director General mentioned that there are two LEGO models for VLT and E-ELT. LEGO may make a set for each if >10,000 votes are received:

Please, do not hesitate to contact me for further inquiries or clarifications.

Page updated: May 13th, 2016.

The mid-term ESO’s Users Committee (UC) meeting took place by telecon in Nov 27th, 2015. The meeting lasted for 1.25 h. The minutes of the meeting are available on this pdf file. As the Spanish representative, I append below my personal notes.

  • ESO’s UC40 meeting will take place in ESO headquarters in April 18-19th, 2016. ESO proposed the following special topic: APEX and ALMA synergies. The UC also proposed: DDT science outcome, and time compensation by technical losses during visitor-mode observations.
  • ESO reported progress in recommendations #1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, and 15 of the UC39 recommendations document.
    • As for recommendation #4, all ESO new services are now available on MacOS.
    • As for recommendation #9, the Time Allocating Working Group is formed and expected to deliver the final document to ESO Director General by mid-2016.
    • As for recommendation #15, in May 2016 there will be a school for X-Shooter and KMOS data reduction.
  • ESO reported that the new recruiting system worked extremely well (positive experience) and thanked both the ESO UC national representatives for their effort and the nominees for their availability.
  • The new recruiting system is alive. Any observational and theoretical astronomer and astrophysicist is welcome to be part of the nominee list (see here for instructions).

Please, do not hesitate to contact me for further inquiries or clarifications.

Page updated: Dec 29th, 2015.

The draft recommendations jointly made by the Users Committee (UC) and ESO after the 39th meeting, held in ESO headquarters in Garching bei München in April 27-28, 2015, are available in this pdf document.

Two important facts are the following:

Here you can find the agenda of the ESO Users Committee (UC) 39th meeting.

Presentations and ESO annual reports prepared in pdf format are also available:

Page updated: Jul 3rd, 2015.

The mid-term ESO’s Users Committee (UC) meeting took place by telecon in Jan 16th, 2015. The meeting lasted for 1.5 h. As the Spanish representative, I append below my personal notes.

  • ESO’s UC39 meeting will take place in ESO headquarters in April 27-28, 2015.
  • ESO reported improved pipelines for FORS spectra, X-SHOOTER, and HARPS.
  • ESO OPO is working on a plan for OPC nomination and membership. ESO will report on this issue this April.
  • The UC is working on a new version of the poll that will be host by ESO. The goal is to make it simpler and short.
  • The UC38 draft minutes UC38_DraftMinutes_oct2014 are approved after implementation of two minor corrections, which are:
    • Page 4, second paragraph should read as follows: “… remarks that La Silla and Paranal users have been very appreciative of the new notification system …”.
    • Page 10, 4th paragraph. Someone commented that this paper is stopped. A clarification must be added.
  • Regarding some recommendations made by the UC, ESO replies:
    • R07, Apex observations status report, implemented since last November.
    • R08, remote observing. ESO is seriously discussing this possibility and will report this April.
    • R09, update Phase 1 system and to involve the UC in relevant discussions. Work in progress, ESO considers that it is too early to involve the UC at present. Progress will be presented this April.
    • R13, workshops on new instrumentation. On-going. See ESO website.
    • R15, inclusion of late-type stars in the ETCs. ESO demands some more explanation from the UC.

Please, do not hesitate to contact me for further inquiries or clarifications.

The draft minutes jointly made by the Users Committee (UC) and ESO of the 38th meeting, held in ESO headquarters in Garching bei München in April 10-11, 2014, are available in this pdf document:  UC38_DraftMinutes_oct2014.  There are two minors corrections to be implemented (see mid-term meeting). The very final version will be available on this website soon.

The UC38 recommendations are included in the meeting minutes.

All remarks made by the Spanish community through the ESO UC poll (April 2014) were addressed during the 38th meeting of the ESO UC. It is highly recommended that ESO Users read the minutes of the 38th meeting.

Here you can find the agenda of the ESO Users Committee (UC) 38th meeting.

Presentations and ESO annual reports prepared in pdf format are also available:

Access to the agendas and presentations of four previous ESO UC meetings:  37 (2013), 36 (2012), 35 (2011), and 34 (2010).

Access to the previous ESO Spanish UC web site maintained by Lourdes Verdes-Montenegro (IAA, CSIC). Pdf reports on previous ESO UC meetings are available:  37 (2013), 36 (2012) and 35 (2011).