The proposal submitted to the EU by OPTICON for support under the sixth
framework programme (FP6) has been positively evaluated and contract
negotiations are now underway. The wide-ranging OPTICON programme includes
a transnational access activity for a range of European operated
telescopes. The scheme is similar to the previous FP5 programme operated
by the IAC for access to telescopes in the Canary Islands, but the new
programme encompases a much larger suite of facilities at a wider range of
locations. The OPTICON trans-national access activity can support travel
costs for qualifying observing runs on telescopes which are awarded to EU
or accession country astronomers NOT belonging to the country(s) which own
the facility.  About 200 observing periods (nights or days)  per year can
be supported in this way.

Although the formal contract with the EU has not yet been signed, the
contract is expected to start early next year. In view of the long time
interval between submission of a proposal and actual observing, the
OPTICON board encourages the submission of proposals for the usual Autumn
2003 deadline which applies to most of the telescopes. Note that proposals
will be judged on scientific merit only by the Time Allocation Committees
which already exist for each telescope involved in this programme. There
is no special OPTICON TAC. The usual deadlines and application proceedures
for each telescope apply and can usually be downloaded from their

The various rules, conditions, and telescopes participating will be listed
soon on the Opticon Web page ( and will be
relayed by the EAS ( In view of the time pressure,
an outline of the essential points are given below, but these cannot be
considered binding at this stage as the EU contract has not been signed.

To be eligible for funding, a proposal must be submitted by a group 
of astronomers where the PI and at least half of the investigators do not 
belong to the nation(s) which operate the telescopes. The proposers must 
be  from EU countries or associated and accession countries.
Proposals from central European astronomers who are not traditional 
users of these facilities are strongly encouraged, but  the programme can 
support any use of non-national telescopes across the EU astronomy 

Telescopes open to this programme include, under others:      Deadline:      

Night-time facilities:

The Anglo-Australian Telescope and UK Schmidt (UK time)     Sep 15-March 15
The CAHA 3.5m and 2.2m at Calar Alto                        Sep 15-March 15
CFHT (French time only) in Hawaii                           Oct 1- March 15
ESO-LaSilla 3.6m, NTT and 2.2m telescopes                   Oct 1- April 1
WHT 4.2m and 2.5m INT in La Palma                           Sept 15-March 15
UKIRT in Hawaii                                             Sept 30-March 15
Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in LaPalma                     Oct 14
Nordic Optical Telescope in LaPalma                         Nov 3- May 2
1.93m telescope in Haute-Provence Observatory               Oct 15-April 15
2m Bernard Lyot telescope in Pic du Midi                    Oct 15-April 15

Solar Telescopes: 

Themis solar telescope in Teide observatory                 Jan 31
Swedish 1m solar telescope in La Palma                           
German VTT solar telescope in the Teide observatory         Jan 31
The Dutch Open telescope in La Palma                

The full list of participating facilities and deadlines can be found 
on the Opticon Web page and at each observatorty. New facilities will 
also join the programme in later years (like the Liverpool telescope and the 
Aristarchos telescope). 

The number of nights/days  offered to the programme by each facility will 
vary from very small to up to 20% of the available observing time. As a 
guideline the fraction of time likely to be available is smaller on the 
larger telescopes.

The details of this announcement are not binding but it is intended to help
potential users to react rapidly and apply if they are interested. Please
ensure a large diffusion of this announcement. We will do our best to keep
you informed of the latest news as soon as available.

18 September 2003
Prepared by Michel Dennefeld (on behalf of the Opticon board,
with the kind help of the Opticon Project Scientist, John Davies.)