WIYN Observatory


Below are a list of Housing and Observing policies for WIYN. These are supplemental to the policies described in the KPNO Users Handbook and the WIYN Users Handbook. For questions or clarifications please contact the WIYN Operations Manager.

Observing Policies & Procedures

ODI Filter Policy

To reduce the risk of damage to ODI full size filters, the SSC has endorsed, as of Oct 22 2015, the following policy. Explanatory text is added in italics.

  1. ODI full size broadband filters (u'g'r'i'z') shall be considered permanently mounted in the instrument. For regular science operations, the filter slot positions used for those 5 filters are not available for other filters. At this time, positions A1,B1,C1,B2,C2 are used for the u'g'r'i'z' filters.
  2. Until further notice, ODI full size filters beyond the u'g'r'i'z' complement, and acquired through WIYN funding, shall be considered as permanently mounted in the instrument, and take precedence over Mosaic filter requests during regular science operations.

    At this time, no additional full size filter is available for ODI. A narrow band filter procurement process by WIYN is under way, and upon that filter's arrival (est. summer 2016), filter position A2 will be occupied by that filter.

Up to four Mosaic filters can be loaded into ODI simultaneously during the semester 2016B. Starting in semester 2016B, up to three Mosaic filter slots will be available in ODI.

Principal Investigators should contact their SSC representative and the WIYN operating team if their program requires the use of additional Mosaic filters. A waiver request for this filter policy should be arranged before, or included in, the submission of a proposal.

OA Afternoon Activities

A new document has been developed as a guideline for both OAs and Observers regarding the expectation of OAs on site.


OAs are not expected to interact with observers before 4:00pm and need sufficient time for dinner and night lunch. They need to perform several essential tasks upon arriving at the telescope and after dinner. They are happy to assist observers with calibrations, as these duties allow. If observers need additional time for calibrations this must be both essential and arranged with WIYN staff and the OA in advance; day crew will assist as available.

Arrival at the Telescope

OAs are not expected to be ready to interact with observers before 4:00pm AZ time. Observers should not request earlier OA arrival. Observers who have need for a longer period of afternoon calibrations should pursue one or more of the following:

Routine Activities

The standard OA afternoon activities after arriving at the telescope are described here. The OAs will set up the telescope for routine calibrations as quickly as possible, subject to other duties and as allowed by local conditions (e.g., humidity, rain).


The OA and observer should arrange a time for the OA to go to dinner that is maximally beneficial and convenient for both. This should not be so late as to run the risk of the OA missing part of the meal. The total duration of the OA's dinner period absolutely should be no less than 30 minutes, and this low number should be the exception; most times the dinner period should be 45 minutes. If the observer won't need the OA for a longer period, that should be communicated. The observers and OA should discuss how to contact the OA in the event of an emergency.

If the observers have not arrived at the telescope or checked in remotely by 4:00pm for calibrations, the OAs will not wait past their regular dinner time, and they will take the default 45 minute period. Essential telescope functions, such as filling dewars or diagnosing crucial problems, will not be deferred for late calibrations.1

Split Nights

Split nights, where one program uses the first half and another the second, possibly with a different instrument, present a particular challenge for afternoon calibrations. The observing teams should coordinate closely in advance with each other, the OA, the WIYN Operations Manager (Heidi Schweiker; heidis@wiyn.org), and the relevant instrument scientists and observing support personnel. The default arrangement is to split the available afternoon calibration time evenly between the different observers; other arrangements can be made if mutually agreeable to the observers and deemed feasible by the OAs and WIYN staff. The advice above, namely to select only the essential caibrations and inquire as to the possibility for help before 4:00pm from the day crew, is particularly relevant in this situation. It may be necessary in some cases for one team to run calibrations one afternoon and the other team do so on the subsequent afternoon.1

Non-routine Activities

OAs want to see observing runs be as successful as possible. In general they will attempt to help observers with non-standard needs to the extent possible. However, observers must not pressure the OAs to do anything that is outside of their area of knowledge or the safety envelope for personnel or equipment as determined by the OA, or prevents the OA from handling basic necessities (e.g., telescope and instrument functions, dinner, night lunch, restroom breaks).

1If there is insufficient time for calibrations, observers can elect to either conduct them during the nighttime or forego until the following afternoon. Morning calibrations, with the exceptions of biases and darks which can be left running if individual instrument policies permit, are discouraged unless essential (e.g., due to inclement weather at the start of the night); in any case these should not cause the OA to stay at the telescope past sunrise.

New Observer Policy

New visiting observers, that do not have PhD status, MUST be accompanied by an experienced on-site observer. The experienced observer may be on any status level. New remote observers MUST have previously observed on-site at WIYN and have used their remote observing instrument on site, no matter what their status level.

Also see the policy on remote observers below.

ORP and Instrument Support Policies

An Observing Run Preparation (ORP) Form must be submitted at least 6 weeks prior to your observing run.

Minimum instrument configuration information that needs to be specified on the ORP includes:

More information on submission of ORPs can be found in the Kitt Peak Users Handbook.

Remote Observing Policies

Observing Team Restrictions

The number of observers is limited to a maximum of THREE at the WIYN telescope. If you wish to request an exception to the number of observers, OR if you wish to send an observer not listed on the original proposal, please write to the KPNO Director for approval. Requests can be sent to kpno at noao.edu.

More information on observing at a KPNO facility can be found in the Kitt Peak Users Handbook.

Shuttle Use

Everyone who drives a government-owned vehicle must be carrying a current Motor Vehicle Operator's Identification card (formerly GSA license), in addition to a valid license from their state, territory, or country. This applies, for example, if you need to make trips between Tucson and the mountain at odd hours, or if you need a mountain vehicle to drive up the 4-meter hill.

Full details on using the NOAO shuttles can be found in the KPNO Users Handbook.

WIYN Visitor Policy

Scheduling Policies & Procedures

Observing Proposal Procedures & Timeline

NEW! (03/29/2016)

Key Dates

NOAO will establish the due date for national time proposals to use WIYN; typically these are 31 March and 30 September for the fall and spring semesters, respectively. The due date for proposals from other WIYN parties1 will be 23:59 Mountain Standard Time (MST) 15 April / 15 October. Telescope time requests from all parties are due by 17:00 MST on 01 May / 01 November.


Each WIYN party should designate a contact person, e.g., the TAC chair, who will deliver each party’s telescope time requests to the WIYN schedulers by the deadline set above. The WIYN schedulers should be advised if this contact person changes.

Each proposal should contain at the minimum the information necessary to schedule the telescope, including instrument and technical details, targets or coordinate ranges, number of nights and lunar phase requirements, any constraints on dates, and a brief summary of the scientific goals. The degree to which other elements, such as a full scientific justification or comprehensive analysis of the observing time request, are required is an internal decision of each party for their observers.

The typical sequence of events each semester is as follows:

  1. WIYN management calculates and informs all parties of their observing allocations (number of nights and lunar phase distribution).
  2. Principal investigators submit their proposals via the NOAO online proposal form, as described on the WIYN website, by the deadline listed above.
  3. Once the proposal deadline has passed NOAO staff distribute each party’s proposals to the designated contact person within 3 business days.
  4. Each contact person reports the results of the local TAC process to the WIYN schedulers by the time request deadline listed above.

1 WIYN parties include capital partners, operational partners, and institutions purchasing nights on the telescope.

Visitor Instruments

Block Scheduling

Each "block" is defined by a major instrument change, such as swapping Hydra for SparsePak. For the duration of the block, only minor instrument changes are allowed, such as filter changes, Hydra setups, etc.

Housing Policies & Procedures

Housing Allocation

WIYN currently leases 2 houses on Kitt Peak from KPNO. These are intended primarily for use by observers at the WIYN 3.5m and WIYN 0.9m telescopes. In addition, the houses may be used by selected Tucson employees identified in the rules below.

In the following rules, the term "WIYN House" refers to the original house rented to the WIYN Consortium (KPNO house #2). The "0.9m House" refers to the house rented to WIYN in April 2002 (KPNO house #5).

Observers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Indiana University, and the University of Missouri, and their collaborators, may use either house. Non-WI observers from among the 0.9m Consortium (see Appendix) may only request the 0.9m House.

These rules are being prepared to aid in the scheduling of the 2 houses in order to avoid conflicts in the demand for their allocation. At times, the availability of the houses, as well as the parties having rights to those houses, has been unclear. These rules should reduce the confusion as to who has access rights to the houses, and under what situations.

Under special circumstances, both houses may be requested by a single observing team. Such instances may include mixed gender teams, or large observing teams (e.g., for educational purposes or for very extended runs).

The due dates for requests indicated below (6 weeks and 4 weeks) have special meaning: the 6 week deadline is the long-standing requirement before which an Observing Run Preparation (ORP) form must be submitted. After that time, KPNO/WIYN cannot guarantee that instrumental and housing requests will be honored. The 4 week deadline is the minimum advance notice for scheduling personnel to maintain and clean the 2 houses. Thus all requests for housing within 4 weeks of an observing run will be satisfied with KPNO dorms, if available.

These policies will be adhered to strictly in order to ensure that housing does not require undue attention of the WIYN Director, or other WIYN and NOAO staff. WIYN and NOAO staff are not to be contacted for variances, etc. Any concerns about these policies should be directed to:

Heidi Schweiker, (520) 318-8140, heidis at wiyn.org.


WI observers are PI's that have been granted time on the WIYN 3.5m telescope through either the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Indiana University, or the University of Missouri.

0.9m Consortium Members

WIYN personnel

Appendix B

Things to keep in mind:

Housing Assignments

We would like to remind observers that assigning housing for the use of WIYN observers is the responsibility of the Kitt Peak support staff. Every effort is made to accommodate observers' requests without violating the housing policies that are in place. IN NO INSTANCE should observers take upon themselves to change the housing assignments. In the case of an emergency, it is absolutely essential that Kitt Peak personnel know who is located where.

If an issue with a housing assignment arises, or a change is desired, the observer should contact the Kitt Peak Support Office at (520) 318-8135 or (520) 318-8279 between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, local time, Monday-Friday. If the issue arises on a weekend, the observer can bring it to the attention of the WIYN 3.5m Observing Assistant, who will contact the appropriate person. If observers choose not to abide by the rules, they will loose their privilege to use the WIYN houses.

Questions can be addressed to:

Cleaning of WIYN Houses

Important Information for Observers and Staff Regarding Reserved Cleaning Times: 14:00 to 16:00 on Run Change Over Dates

In order to ensure adequate cleaning of both the WIYN house and the WIYN 0.9m house we are clarifying when KPNO facilities staff may enter the houses to clean and maintain the building/rooms. All observers must vacate their respective house by 14:00 the day they are scheduled to check out. Incoming observers are not allowed to "occupy" the houses until 16:00 on their arrival day. Incoming observers are allowed to drop off their food and luggage at the houses before 16:00, as long as luggage is stored in the living room and out of the way. In the case of observer overlap between runs, observers need to understand that on the observing run change over day (change over dates are the dates a new program starts on the respective telescope, see the telescope schedule on-line) between the hours of 14:00 and 16:00 cleaning staff will be authorized to clean the room. The cleaning crew reserves the right to wake observers, if necessary, during these hours on the change over dates. Incoming, overlapped, observers may leave the designated placard on their bed to show that it is occupied and do not have to move their belongings out of their bedroom. If your plans lead you to leave the mountain before noon on your day of departure, please take the time to contact the KPNO Support Office (318-8135) to let them know you have vacated the house and we will put the extra time to clean the house to good use.

Last modified: 05-Dec-2016 16:01:14 MST