CanTAC - Canadian Time Allocation Committee

  • Gemini Observatory and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) are the results of international collaborations
  • Canada has an 18% share in Gemini, with the rest going to the U.S.A., Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea, and Hawaii
  • Canada has a 42.5% share in the CFHT, France has 42.5% and the University of Hawaii has the remaining 15%


The quality and integrity of the Canadian telescope time allocation process owes much to the unselfish efforts of the CanTAC scientific members and NRC staff. These people oversee the peer review of the proposals submitted to Gemini (near infrared (NIR), optical), and CFHT (optical).


This system assures that the member handling a proposal will have expertise in the relevant subject area. Expert members are more likely to identify capable and objective reviewers, and they provide a critical check and balance during the peer review process.


Because they work with little or no compensation, they allow us to maintain a high level of scientific and technical quality, at minimal cost to the proposal authors and user communities.

Double-Blind Peer Review

Double-blind reviews of proposals are carried out with the identity of the proposal applicants concealed from the reviewers and vice versa throughout the review process.  Proposers should make every effort to ensure that their proposals are prepared in a way that does not give away their identity.  Numerous sites provide guidelines to help with this, for example, the STScI Proposer Guidelines.

CanTAC Composition

CanTAC consists of 12 North American members with the majority located at Canadian institutions.  One member is selected (and identified) as the committee SuperChair.  Separate Galactic and Extragalactic panels are composed of a panel chair and five additional members with appropriate expertise.  Each proposal is reviewed by the panel selected by the SuperChair and panel chairs.

SuperChair: Brian Chaboyer, Dartmouth College

Technical Secretary: David Bohlender

Applying for CFHT observing time

Submission procedures and deadlines

Please refer to CFHT Calls for Proposals for information on the submission of proposals and the current deadlines.

Unwanted referees? Send email to the CanTAC technical secretary.

Reasonable electronic size

Referees start to encounter printer problems when asked to referee a proposal exceeding 2.1 Megabytes. Try to decrease the size of your figures, and/or to supply a web address where the figures can be seen.

Please note

The scientific justification is now limited to a single page of text (not including references). Investigators proposing a large program (requesting 5 or more nights in a single semester from a single agency) may append 2 additional pages on their experimental design.

Thesis status for student observing proposals

The data acquired as part of an accepted observing proposal for Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope or Gemini is subject to a proprietary period that ranges from 12 to 18 months. This period is relatively short compared to the typical time taken to complete an MSc or even a PhD thesis. Therefore, while it is possible for any principal investigator (PI) to request an extension to the nominal proprietary period, CanTAC strongly supports proprietary extensions for meritorious proposals tightly tied to a thesis project.

At their May 2012 meeting CanTAC passed the following resolution: "Thesis status is a privilege granted by CanTAC upon request by a student PI completing a graduate degree at a Canadian institution whose thesis depends critically upon the requested observations. Thesis status normally guarantees an increase in the proprietary period to a total duration of 3 years (PhD) or 2 years (MSc). CanTAC will not normally approve an extension that lasts more than 6 months after the nominal date of degree completion. A letter of support from the supervisor describing the role of the proposed observations in the student's thesis must be sent to the CanTAC technical secretary when the proposal is submitted."

In order to request thesis status for an observing proposal, please send the following information to the CanTAC Technical Secretary within 1 week of the proposal deadline:

  • Name of student and university
  • Degree being sought and expected date of completion
  • Name of thesis supervisor (and university if different than student's)
  • Telescope(s) to which proposals were submitted
  • Proposal(s) title(s)
  • Description of the role of the proposed observations in the student's thesis

Contact us

Dr. David Bohlender
5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9E 2E7

Telephone: 250-363-0025
Fax: 250-363-0045