Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time travel grant

You can apply for travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time at astronomy facilities available to the UK research community. You must be a UK-based researcher, and the funding should be used to support UK-based observers only.

You can apply for:

  • travel grants: two-year funding for groups with travel costs of more than £5,000 a year (application deadline in October each year)
  • travel claims: for £5,000 and under, for applicants who neither hold or have access to a travel grant awarded by the panel (no deadline)

For details of how to make a claim, go to the ‘How to apply’ section.

Who can apply

You can apply for travel funds if you are a permanent member of staff or hold a fully-tenured post at an eligible UK institution.

Observers are eligible to use the funds awarded in support of an approved programme of observations provided that they are:

  • the principal investigator or co-investigator, or their nominated representative
  • a member of academic or research staff at the institution of the principal investigator
  • a student attached to the institution of the principal investigator whose credentials have firmly established them as bona fide observers.

Applicants must be satisfied that their nominated representative is experienced and qualified to use or operate the facility on which an allocation of time has been awarded. A principal investigator must not authorise the use of travel funds to support students undertaking observations that will form part of their PhD preparation. You should contact us if you are unsure about the eligibility of the student.

The funding we provide will normally be for one observer only. If you need a second observer, you must get approval from us at least four weeks in advance.

Find out more about eligibility in our research grants handbook.

What we're looking for

We’re looking to support UK-based observers visiting a range of astronomy facilities.

You can apply for the full cost of expenses for travel and subsistence in support of competitively-awarded science observation time.

We will not fund commissioning work or observation at private facilities.
You may use the awarded funds, without seeking further approval, in support of observing runs on the following:

  • facilities in direct receipt of STFC funds, for example e-MERLIN, ING, LT
  • facilities approved by our Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT)

You can apply for observing runs on non-approved telescopes, but you must first get approval from us.

You should only use travel funds when the presence of a UK observer is essential to the observing programme or required by the facility.

You can apply for funding for the collection or collation of data, or for data reduction visits, only in exceptional cases. Your application must include a case for support for a physical journey, for example because of the complexities of the data or difficulties in transporting the data.

If you need to change or cancel an agreed observing programme, you must get approval from the STFC office for any alternative plans.

The scheme does not cover any other costs such as postdoctoral salaries, equipment, and investigator time

Funding for visits to both approved and non-approved telescopes is not guaranteed. You should not book flights or make other travel arrangements unless we have confirmed funding.

How to apply

Applying for a travel grant

You should contact the STFC office if you are applying for a travel grant for the first time.

You must apply via the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S), selecting the following:

  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: PATT travel
  • call: PATT travel grants.

Please do not include any salary information on the Je-S form or any request for investigator funding. Only the principal investigator’s name needs to be entered on the Je-S form.

You must include a case for support with your application for a travel grant. Details of what to include are contained in the full guidance (PDF, 336KB).

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

You will normally hear the outcome of your application one month after the closing date.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

Making a travel claim

You must email your request for funding to the STFC office at least four weeks before your observing run. You should not undertake any travel without first getting approval from STFC.

Your email should outline the request for travel funds and attach the following documents:

The STFC office will email confirmation of approval, with a travel and subsistence claim form attached. You must submit claims for flights, travel and subsistence within three months of the observing run. You must provide receipts for all claimed expenditure, or we will not reimburse your claim.

Decisions on travel claims are usually made on the day they are received. They may take up to a week if they require approval of the chair of the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT).

Guidelines on travel and subsistence for approved telescopes (PDF, 336KB).

How we will assess your application

Travel grant application

Your application will be reviewed by the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT).

Travel claim application

Your travel claim will be processed by staff. The panel chair will review all claims for an observing run on a non-approved telescope.

Contact details

Additional info

What is the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time?

The Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT)  is an advisory body set up to consider the allocation of telescope time and associated travel and subsistence costs for a range of astronomy facilities for the UK community.

Other telescopes

If you want to apply for telescope time at the ING, Liverpool Telescope and e-MERLIN, you must apply directly to the observatories. You can find more information from each observatory:

Supporting documents

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.