Frequently Asked Questions
If your question is not found below, please email your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the Proposal Code in the subject of the email for Phase II enquiries.
Phase I: Preparing and planning the proposal
- What acquisition overhead time per block should be assumed?
- What calibration overheads should be assumed?
- I am planning to submit a MOS proposal, but don’t know where to start!
- What is the sky brightness due to the Moon?
- Can I use my own target spectrum in the RSS/SALTICAM Simulators?
- Can we ask for time from more than one partner? How do we submit a multiple partner proposal?
- Can I re-use my Phase I proposal from the previous semester?
- Can I import targets from an old proposal?
- How can I add figures and table to my science case LaTeX file?
- How can I apply different sub-rankings to targets inside my proposal?
- What is the Too Tight Tracks syndrome, and why should I care?
Phase I: Submitting the proposal
- My proposal submission failed. What should I do?
- How do I resubmit my proposal?
- Do all my Co-investigators also have to approve the proposal before the deadline?
- The PIPT doesn’t work as expected. What do I do?
- Is there a PIPT version for Windows? For macOS?
- The PIPT can’t connect to the server. Is this because I’m using a proxy to connect to the internet?
- Can I use the PIPT with a proxy?
- I tried everything but still can’t connect to the server! How can I submit my proposal?
- When trying to login I get the error “peer not authenticated”. Why is that?
- Whenever I create a new investigator, the PIPT tells me “there exists no SALT partners information on your disk, it will be downloaded now”.
- I clicked on the Instrument Configuration part in a tree menu of the PIPT and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?
- How do I add an institute in the PIPT?
- Can I import my targets from a file? There are too many of them to be added manually!
- When is the Phase II deadline?
- I have a ToO proposal and I do not yet know my target(s). Do I need to prepare a phase II by the deadline?
- My targets will only become visible later in the semester. Do I really have to submit my proposal now?
- First things first – How do I get started on Phase II?
- What’s new for this semester?
- What’s the current instrument status?
- Is there a tool for creating my finder charts?
- How do I resubmit my proposal?
- I need help preparing MOS observations.
- What can and can’t change between Phase I and II?
- Do I need to specify FLAT and ARC configs in the PIPT?
- Is there any information on the website regarding dither patterns?
- When trying to submit my proposal, the PIPT gets stuck in the submission dialog at some stage. Why?
- II get a strange error when submitting. What can I do?
- Can I copy blocks or instrument configurations from another proposal?
- The Web Manager claims I have changed a target in Phase II, although I haven’t. Why?
- The requested times shown in the PIPT are wrong. Why?
- When submitting, I get an error that some of my blocks have changed. What does that mean?
- Can I make changes to my submitted blocks?
- How do you keep track of blocks across resubmissions?
- Where can I find more answers?
Phase I: Preparing and planning the proposal
1. What acquisition overhead time per block should be assumed?
- RSS MOS mode: 900 seconds
- Everything else: 600 seconds
- How you can help us: Provide high quality finder charts and notes for observers in Phase II.
Also see the answer to the question “What calibration overheads should be assumed?”.
2. What calibration overheads should be assumed?
Please see the table in the Phase I document available here.
The best way to calculate these is to prepare an example block with the PIPT in a dummy Phase II program. Select the block in the left hand panel list and then press the ‘Clock’ icon in the PIPT button bar. The total block time is then shown as the ‘Total charged time” value for the block.
3. I am planning to submit a MOS proposal, but don’t know where to start!
Please see our dedicated MOS page.
All MOS specific FAQ questions may be found there as well.
4. What is the sky brightness due to the Moon?
The plot below (click to enlarge) shows the sky brightness in U, B and I for a lunar elongation of 90 degrees as a function of the lunar phase angle. The percentages in its legend refer to the illuminated fraction of the lunar disk.
The software applications broadly define three categories for the Moon.
- Dark: A lunar illumination fraction of < 15% or Moon below horizon.
- Grey: An illumination fraction between 15% and 85%.
- Bright: An illumination fraction > 85%.
You can choose the maximum lunar phase for your observations. Note that a smaller illumination fraction will reduce the chances of your block being observed. A similar constraint on a target’s angular distance from the Moon can also be made.
5. Can I use my own target spectrum in the RSS/SALTICAM Simulators?
Yes. When adding a target select ‘User supplied’ from the list and load up your ASCII file containing the spectrum.
The file format must have two columns
- First column: Wavelength in Angstroms
- Second column: Flux in erg/s/cm^2/A (for a point source) or erg/s/cm^2/A/arcsec^2 (for a diffuse flux)
Lines may be commented out with ‘#’, and the flux is assumed to be zero outside the wavelength range covered by the spectrum.
6. Can we ask for time from more than one partner? How do we submit a multiple partner proposal?
Yes, multiple partner proposals are allowed. In this case the PI only has to submit the proposal once using the PIPT.
The PI chooses in the PIPT how the time is split up amongst separate partners – e.g. 50%/50%, 25%/75%, 100%/0%, or any other that equals 100%.The proposal is then submitted to all the relevant TACs automatically.
7. Can I re-use my Phase I proposal from the previous semester?
If the proposal has received a time allocation for the current semester, you may submit a progress report in the Web Manager.
Otherwise you’ll have to create and submit a new proposal, which may be a copy of the old one.
If you still have the Phase 1 proposal on your computer, you may import it and clone it (using the menu item Proposal > Clone). Add your changes to the cloned proposal (i.e. the one with the proposal code “Unsubmitted-nnn”) and submit it.
If you can’t find the proposal, you may use the menu item “Online->Import from Database…” to import it, and before editing it make sure to clone the proposal (as outlined above).
8. Can I import targets from an old proposal?
Yes! You can export target lists from previous proposals using the menu item File >Export Target Data.
To import the new target list, in the navigation tree for your new proposal click on the Targets node of the proposal. The targets form will appear which contains tables for mandatory and optional targets. Underneath both tables you can find the “Add Targets From File” button to import your target list.
9. How can I add figures and tables to my science case LaTeX file?
Unfortunately you can’t use the floating figure or table environments.
You can however use the ‘\includegraphics’ command for images or the tabular environment for tables. Both can be centered with the center environment, but there’s no easy way to create a caption.
If you want to add a caption, you may want to try adding it to the bottom of your figure manually.
10. How can I apply different sub-rankings to targets inside my proposal?
This is only required for Phase II.
Note that the TAC assigns scientific priorities, whereas rankings allow you to prioritise within your allocated time what targets you would like observed first (e.g. if you have a list of similar targets).
11. What is the Too Tight Tracks syndrome, and why should I care?
If your observation length is close to the maximum available track length, the probability of your observation being done may be reduced significantly. It is therefore important to avoid this “Too Tight Tracks syndrome”. The Visibility Calculator page explains how you can you use Visibility Calculator to check how much track time is available for your observations.
Phase I: Submitting the proposal
Firstly, please make sure you’re using the latest version of the PIPT.
1. My proposal submission failed. What should I do?
If you understand the error message, correct the problem and try again.
If you get “Adding text to an XML document must not be null”, your submission probably worked. In that case, you should have a confirmation email and your proposal should be visible in the Web Manager. If not, please contact email@example.com before making a resubmission of your proposal.
In all other cases, please select your proposal and choose the menu item File >Export as Zip File. Please send that zip file to firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate in your email whether you want us to submit the proposal for you.
2. How do I resubmit my proposal?
Just submit the proposal again from the PIPT.
3. Do all my Co-investigators also have to approve the proposal before the deadline?
No, it is not essential for Co-Is to approve the proposal before the deadline. However, we recommend them all to approve it soon after (before the TACs start assessing proposals).
4. The PIPT doesn’t work as expected. What do I do?
Try saving your changes and restarting the PIPT. This usually solves most issues with some luck (and sometimes after several attempts).
If that still doesn’t help, please email email@example.com with full details of your problem, including any error messages. You may also want to attach a zip file of your proposal (select your proposal and use the menu item File >Export as Zip file).
5. Is there a PIPT version for Windows? For macOS?
Unfortunately, we are currently offering the PIPT as a jar file only, which is platform-agnostic. See the installation instructions for more details.
6. The PIPT can’t connect to the server. Is this because I’m using a proxy to connect to the internet?
Yes. Please see the answer to the question “Can I use the PIPT with a proxy?” for more details.
7. Can I use the PIPT with a proxy?
You possibly can. Here is what to do:
- Find the Preferences item in the menu and select it (On a Mac it’s in the PiptManager menu, otherwise it’s in the Edit menu.)
- Select the Proxy tab in the preferences window.
- Provide the proxy URL and select whether your proxy uses authentication.
- Unfortunately, the PIPT doesn’t work with all proxies. Local IT support at your institution may be able to help resolve proxy issues.
8. I tried everything but still can’t connect to the server! How can I submit my proposal?
Select your proposal and choose the menu item File >Export as zip file. Please send that zip file to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please make sure it is validated in the PIPT before sending it to us.)
9. When trying to login I get the error “peer not authenticated”. Why is that?
Please make sure you are using the latest build for your Java version.
You can check your version and build number by running the following command in a terminal:
10. Whenever I create a new investigator, the PIPT tells me “there exists no SALT partners information on your disk, it will be downloaded now”.
You may have no connection to the server.
11. I clicked on the Instrument Configuration part in a tree menu of the PIPT and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?
This is a bug. Try quitting and restarting the PIPT, remembering to save your changes first.
12. How do I add an institute in the PIPT?
To add a new institute in the PIPT, an investigator must be registered with the institute.
1. If the investigator has a Web Manager account already, they have to login and add a new contact by going to Options > Add Contact. Otherwise they have to register.
2. They have to choose “Other” for the partner, and (unless their institute is in the list already) choose “ADD NEW INSTITUTE” for the institute, which can be found at the end of the dropdown menu.
3. They have to add all the details and submit the form.
Once that is done, you can make the new institute available in the PIPT:
1. Launch the PIPT and go to an investigator page.
2. Click on the “Update Partner information” link.
3. The new institute should be listed for the partner Other now. (If it isn’t, try moving to another page and back.)
13. Can I import my targets from a file? There are too many of them to be added manually!
Yes. In the Targets form in the PIPT there is a “Import Targets from File” button underneath the tables of mandatory and optional targets.
Please see this PDF document for an outline of the required file format and examples. Target properties (Moon, rank, observing time) may also be specified in the file.
1. When is the Phase II deadline?
Please see the call for proposals document.
2. I have a ToO proposal and I do not yet know my target(s). Do I need to prepare a Phase II by the deadline?
Yes. Please use a “Dummy” target in your proposal and prepare and submit your Phase II using this target, getting the instrument setups as close to the final setup as you possibly can. It will then be a trivial matter to replace the Dummy target in your block with the real target when you’re ready to trigger, and the SAs won’t have so many checks to do at the last minute.
3. My targets will only become visible later in the semester. Do I really have to submit my proposal now?
Yes, the Phase II deadline is a hard deadline. This is to help us plan out the semester better.
4. First things first – How do I get started on Phase II?
Make sure you have the latest PIPT installed and launch it.
Import the Phase 2 (yes, Phase 2, not 1) proposal using the menu item Online > Import from Database. If asked, choose to replace the existing version of the proposal.
There also is a menu item Online > Convert to Phase 2, but that likely won’t work, and it will be removed in a future version.
5. What’s new for the current semester?
Please see the call for proposals document.
6. What’s the current instrument status?
Please see the instrument availability page.
7. Is there a tool for creating my finder charts?
Yes, there’s an online finder chart generator.
Additional finder charts are required for crowded fields (e.g. Galactic Bulge or Magellanic Clouds). These should be ~2×2 arcmin and at full resolution (e.g. DSS plates) and must cover your target. This detailed finder chart should be in the same filter and orientation as the one generated with the link above.
Please note that all finder charts should follow these guidelines. Copying figures from papers does not constitute a valid finder chart.
8. How do I resubmit my proposal?
Just submit the proposal again from the PIPT. Your proposal will have to be reactivated (usually by a SALT Astronomer) after the resubmission.
9. I need help preparing MOS observations.
Please see the separate MOS FAQ on the dedicated MOS page.
10. What can and can’t change between Phase I and II?
- If additional targets are necessary, please send your request to the head of SALT Astro Ops and your liaison astronomer via SALThelp for consideration.
- You cannot use more time than the TAC allocated.
- If you are use tighter observing conditions (seeing, moon phase and sky transparency) than requested in Phase I, please contact your liaison astronomer first. You may, of course, loosen these conditions to improve the chance of your observation being taken.
- Any significant change in the instrumentation requirements or science aims needs to be approved by the head of SALT Astro Ops, Encarni Romero Colmenero.
11. Do I need to specify FLAT and ARC configs in the PIPT?
The essential thing is to add the flats and arcs in your RSS config if you want them, as well as their frequency. The config details don’t matter too much, as we handle them on our end. If you want to know more contact your liason SA.
12. Is there any information on the website regarding dither patterns?
Yes, the SALT dither patterns are explained in our dither patterns page.
13. When trying to submit my proposal, the PIPT gets stuck in the submission dialog at some stage. Why?
Presumably your proposal is very large and you run into memory problems. When using the jar version, you can try to increase the available memory by launching the jar file with the -Xms and -Xmx flag.
An example would be:
java -Xms85m -Xmx512m -jar PIPT.jar
-Xms sets the memory when starting,
-Xmx the maximum memory
If all else fails, please send an email to salthelp.
14. I get a strange error when submitting. What can I do?
If you cannot make heads or tails of an error you get during submission, please contact email@example.com for help.
However, in case you get the error shown in the screenshot below, your submission presumably has been successful and you should check in the Web Manager whether that’s the case.
15. Can I copy blocks or instrument configurations from another proposal?
Yes, you can copy multiple blocks, targets and instrument configurations between proposals.
How to copy blocks:
- Add the blocks to the clipboard. You can add individual blocks by right-clicking on their node in the navigation tree and choosing the respective item from the popup menu.
- If you have many blocks, the best strategy might be to right-click on the Blocks node in the navigation tree and to choose the item Add all blocks to clipboard item. See the next step how to drop some of these if you only want to copy a subset.
- You may have a look at the clipboard by using the menu item Clipboard > Show clipboard. This allows you to remove some blocks from the clipboard.
- Now in the navigation tree right-click on the Blocks node to which you want to add the blocks. Choose Add > New Blocks from clipboard from the popup menu.
And that’s it. Targets and instrument configurations can be copied in a similar manner.
- The observing times shown in the Blocks table might not be correct after adding the blocks. Go to one of the blocks and press Cmd-T; that seems to help. Alternatively, saving, quitting and relaunching the PIPT should do the trick.
- If you are using an observation or instrument configuration more than once in the copied blocks, a separate copy will be created for each use. (No duplicate targets will be created, however.)
16. The Web Manager claims I have changed a target in Phase II, although I haven’t. Why?
It may be that during the import and resubmission of your proposal a small change in your target coordinates crept in. So you may want to check your target coordinates. Otherwise contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
17. The requested times shown in the PIPT are wrong. Why?
There might be two reasons why the times seem to be wrong:
- If your proposal is a multi-semester proposal, the number of visits you request are for the current semester, irrespective of observations in other semesters. For example, if you are requesting 5 visits for a block in 2017-2 and it has been observed twice in 2017-1, you are requesting and you are charged for 5 (not 3) visits.
- Some blocks which have been observed already are not included in your proposal any longer. These are still accounted for when the requested time is calculated. Note that by copying a block you are creating a new block, even if you retain the old name.
18. When submitting, I get an error that some of my blocks have changed. What does that mean?
Once a block has been observed, it must not be changed substantially any longer. So if you make changes and get this error, you will have to create a copy of your block (and delete the old one). Remember that you will have to adjust the number of visits if the block has been observed already.
Please export your proposal as a zip file and send it to email@example.com if you feel that the error is incorrect as nothing has changed.
Also see the answer to the question “Can I make changes to my submitted blocks?”.
19. Can I make changes to my submitted blocks?
The rule of thumb is that you cannot change a block once it has been observed. However, there are some items you can still change:
- The number of visits.
- The maximum number of visits for all semesters combined.
- The comments.
- The block ranking.
- The wait period between observations.
- The priority.
- The finding charts.
- The phase or time restrictions, if the block has not been observed in the current semester yet.
In case you need to make other changes, you’ll have to copy the block. Remember to delete the old block or to reduce its number of visits.
You are free to change blocks in any way before they are observed.
20. How do you keep track of blocks across resubmissions?
Every block gets assigned a unique identifier. If a submitted shares the same identifier with an existing block, the two are considered to be same block. This has implications for the changes you may make; see the next question. Conversely, if two blocks have different identifiers, they are considered to be different blocks, even if they might have the same name.