Chronology of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes
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Chronology of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes


RED: 1-m Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope
BLUE: 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope
GREEN: 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope

25 December 1642 Isaac Newton born
1672 Isaac Newton builds the first reflector telescope
1675 The Royal Observatory founded at Greenwich by King Charles II
20 March 1727 Death of Isaac Newton
15 November 1738 Frederick William Herschel born
1781 William Herschel discovers Uranus
26 August 1822 Death of Frederick William Herschel
19 January 1851 Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn born
1856 First astronomical observations in the Canary Islands by Charles Piazzi Smyth 
1922 Kapteyn publishes his first attemp at a Galaxy model derived from counts of stars
18 June 1922 Death of Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn
1945-46 Proposal for large telescope for use of all British astronomers
1946 July 7 First day of official celebration of tercentenary of Newton's birth. Announcement that funds voted for construction of 100-inch telescope
1948-1958 The Royal Observatory is moved from London to Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, and renamed the Royal Greenwich Observatory
1949 McGregor Fundation donates 98-inch glass mirror blank (originally intended for telescope for Michigan University Observatory)
1959 Isaac Newton Telescope ordered
1965 INT First Light at Herstmonceux
1967
January Hermann Brück, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, first proposes the construction of a Northern Hemisphere Observatory (NHO) 
1 December Isaac Newton Telescope is inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II
1969
January Formal start of the project 'Northern Hemisphere Observatory (NHO)'. Sir Fred Hoyle takes the chair at the first meeting of the Northern Hemisphere Review Committee
1971
April John Alexander of the Royal Greenwich Observatory visits La Palma
August Professor M.F. Walker of Lick Observatory, California includes La Palma in a list of oceanic islands that might be used as astronomical sites 
Summer and autumn JOSO site testers visit La Palma 
November  Flight over the mountain top in La Palma by JOSO (Joint Organization for Solar Observations) team
December John Alexander states: "The ideal solution may be an international observatory site on the island of La Palma." 
1972
2 July First astronomical observations on Roque de Los Muchachos peak. They were carried out by a JOSO team consisting of G. Hosinsky, L. Staveland and H. Wöhl from July 2 to July 21
11 July First British astronomers arrive in La Palma
6 August First observations by the British site-testing team. These were carried out by Dr T. T. Gough and Mr C. M. Heath of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh in Fuente Nueva, where the ING telescopes are erected today
1973
May The NHO Planning Committee decides not to consider La Palma any more due to deep pessimism about the prospects for agreement on the use of La Palma site
1974
August After high international activity, Spanish authorities issue an invitation to form a Joint Astronomical Site Survey to undertake an international programme of site testing on the Canary Islands
November The proposals for the present WHT, INT and JKT are accepted by the Science Research Council
25 November Site testing observations begin in Fuente Nueva
December Representatives of Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom are invited by the Rector of the University of La Laguna and the Presidents of the local Governments (Cabildos) of Tenerife and La Palma to discuss arrangements for the survey programme. During a aircraft flight above the Roque de Los Muchachos peak, these representatives "[...] felt that this must be the site for the new observatory"
1975
November Tests for night site observing are completed
1978
Building of the JKT starts at Grubb Parsons
1979
4 March INT closed down at Herstmonceux
8 March A purchase order for the 4.2-m Cervit blank for the primary mirror placed with Owens-Illinois
26 May Almost 10 years after the first committee met to consider a Northern Hemisphere Observatory, a treaty governing its establishment is signed. Spain agrees to let Denmark, Sweden, and Britain build on La Palma, in exchange for 20 percent of the observing time. The treaty is signed in the Cabildo of la Palma 
4 June INT is dismantled and transferred to Newcastle for modification prior to shipment to La Palma
Completion of JKT at Grubb Parsons
1980
May The SRC approves the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope
Completion of INT new mirror at Grubb Parsons.
1981
March 1-m telescope installed at Herstmonceux for testing before shipment La Palma
18 June SERC-ZWO agreement signed. They agree to share all the parts of the projects, including the construction, operation and use of the telescopes, each providing manpower, capital and running costs in the ratio 4:1.
July Isaac Newton Telescope installation begins
September First RGO staff come to live on La Palma
November Contract placed for construction of the William Herschel Telescope
1982
September First Dutch technician begins work at Herstmonceux under Anglo-Dutch collaborative programme
10 December INT primary mirror arrives on La Palma
1983
23 January Hand-over from the building contractor of INT building
May Construction of William Herschel Telescope building begins
June Harrier jet from Royal Navy makes an emergency landing on the SS Alraigo, a cargo ship carrying the 1-m telescope base plate
September La Palma Observers' Guide issued
October 1-m telescope delivered to La Palma and erected
November First light through the Carlsberg Automatic Meridian Circle
1984
INT observes quasar Q0055-269, one of the most distant objects known in the universe (z=3.68). [ Link ]
13/14 February 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope first light on La Palma. Its first views included the Crab Nebula, the Orion Nebula and the galaxies M51 and NGC 4151.
March First astronomical spectra obtained with INT Cassegrain spectrograph. First use of the Image Photon Counting System (IPCS) device on La Palma.
23 March First photograph with the Wide-field Photographic Camera on the JKT. First light on the JKT.
April Patrick Moore films Sky at Night on La Palma
29 May First scheduled observing on JKT
29 May First scheduled observing on INT 
JuneFirst CCD detector in use at ING
September  Start of tests at Grubb Parsons of William Herschel Telescope
November First refereed paper using results from the ING telescopes: M V Penston & E Pérez, "An evolutionary link between Seyfert I and II galaxies?", MNRAS, 211, 33 (based on data obtained using the Isaac Newton Telescope).
December William Herschel Telescope dismantled, packed and stored. Effective closure of Grubb Parsons
December Faint-object spectrograph commissioned on Isaac Newton Telescope
1985
First ever images from optical aperture synthesis [ Link ]
April TAURUS commissioned on Isaac Newton Telescope
June  Completion of road to Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory
29 June Royal Inauguration of the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma
July First prime-focus images with Isaac Newton Telescope and CCD camera
August Opening of Residencia on Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory
September CCD camera commissioned at the f/15 Cassegrain focus of the Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope
1986
INT observes an emission-line object in the core of M15 star cluster as the source responsible for the detected emission in X-ray. This object is later identified as a binary system [ Link ]
1987
1 June First Light on the WHT
15 August First Light on TAURUS II
22 August First observing run relating to a PATT application. This was for a programme called 'TAURUS observations of rotation curves, intergalactic gas and star forming regions', Dr E A Valentijn from the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute is the principal investigator
OctoberFirst light on FOS-2 [ Link ]
1988
Li and Be abundance measurements give clues on cosmological evolution [ Link ]
AprilThe Ground-based High Resolution Imaging Laboratory (GHRIL) sees first light [ Link ]
31 OctoberThe Spanish Government approves the Sky Law
1989
First images of features on the surface of a star (other than the Sun) [ Link ]
First detection of gravitational microlensing events [ Link ]
Identification and optical monitoring of a binary millisecond pulsar [ Link ]
AutumnFirst light on ISIS [ Link ]
1990
Starspots discovered in binary systems [ Link ]
1991
INT discovers a quasar of redshift 4.7 which is the brightest object in the Universe at optical wavelengths [ Link ]
INT obtains the ever deepest B image [ Link ]
RGO moves to Cambridge
July The first infrared array is used at ING. It was a 58×62 pixel InSb chip mounted inside the FAST camera. [ Link ]
NovemberFirst light on the Utrecht Echelle Spectrograph [ Link ]
1992
The best-ever stellar-size black hole candidate in a compact binary system is discovered [ Link ]
13 March The regulation of the Sky Law is approved by the Spanish Government
1993
SN 1993J was the closest core-collapse supernova to have occurred this century and observable from the north. ING telescopes immediately set in motion an extensive programme of astrometric, photometric (UVBRI) and low- and high- dispersion spectroscopic monitoring. The INT spectrum of SN1993J obtained one day after the discovery was the first recorded anywhere at any wavelength. A public on-line archive consisting of optical photometric and spectroscopic data is offered to the community. Over 70 sites worldwide have availed themselves of this unique facility [ Link
NovemberFirst light on the Prime Focus Camera [ Link ]
1994
A major campaign is undertaken to observe the impact on Jupiter of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 [ Link ]
First ever spectroscopic map of an accretion-disk in a cataclysmic variable [ Link ]
OctoberFirst light on Autofib-2 [ Link ]
1995
First ever observations of a brown dwarf [ Link ]
The deepest ground-based image in B-band [ Link ]
AprilFirst light on Wyffos spectrograph [ Link ]
1996
The WHT observes a star in real-time evolution, the Sakurai object [ Link ]
1997
First detection of spiral waves in stellar accretion disc [ Link ]
28 February First detection of a gamma-ray burst in optical light [ Link ]
16 April Comet Hale-Bopp: First ever images of a neutral gas tail in a comet (discovered using the ING CoCAM telescope) [ Link ]
MayFirst light on the Wide-Field Camera, a mosaic of 4 CCDs. [ Link ]
NovemberThe Richardson-Brearley Spectrograph is retired. The JKT becomes a single-instrument telescope dedicated to CCD imaging.
1998
By observing distant type Ia supernovae, astronomers determine that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate - an observation that implies the existence of a mysterious, self-repelling property of space first proposed by Albert Einstein, which he called the cosmological constant. This extraordinary finding is named by the journal 'Science' as Breakthrough of the Year for 1998 [ Link ]
APM 08279+5255: a quasar about 100 times brighter than the next brightest object that has ever been observed [ Link ]
31 October Closure of RGO.
1999
A new Local Group galaxy: The Cetus Dwarf Galaxy [ Link ]
Cosmic flow of galaxies across one billion light years of the Universe [ Link ]
February First on-sky observations using a Superconducting Tunnel Junction detector: First light on S-Cam [ Link ]
February First light on Sauron Spectrograph [ Link ]
September First light on the new Prime Focus Camera [ Link ]
September First sodium laser beacon at La Palma [ Link ]
2000
Discovery of a Type Ia supernova progenitor [ Link ]
New evidence that galaxies formed early in the history of the universe [ Link ]
16 March First light of INGRID [ Link ]
2 June Crown Prince of Spain observes at the William Herschel Telescope [ Link ]
23 July Comet Linear blows up in full view of the JKT one billion light years of the Universe [ Link ]
14 August First light of NAOMI [ Link ]
2001
The WHT one of the most science productive telescopes in the world [ Link ]
A giant stream of metal-rich stars in the halo of the galaxy M31 [ Link ]
Completely dark galaxies [ Link ]
Tidal streams in the Galactic halo [ Link ]
International review of ING [ Link ]
7-11 May First scientific conference organised by ING [ Link ]
16 July First light on the Planetary Nebula Spectrograph [ Link ]
24 July First light on the new Small Fibre Module of Autofib2/WYFFOS [ Link ]
20 October Science from La Palma - Past, Present and Future, a workshop organised by ING in honour of Dr Paul Murdin. [ Link ]
2002
First ever adaptive optics observation of a Near Earth Asteroid [ Link ]
May First Light on OSCA [ Link ]
16 May First Light on ULTRACAM [ Link ]
27-31 May A Euroconference Organised by the ING: “Symbiotic Stars Probing Stellar Evolution”, La Palma, 27–31 May 2002 [ Link ]
31 July Decommissioning of UES
August RoboDIMM starts observing [ Link ]
2003
A huge ring surrounding the Milky Way [ Link ]
9-11 January NAOMI Workshop [ Link ]
15 February First Light on LIRIS [ Link ]
2 May Inauguration of GRACE [ Link ]
6 May Signing of agreement with IAC to become a partner
26-30 May Satellites and Tidal Streams, an ING–IAC Joint Conference [ Link ]
17 July Decommissioning of IDS
31 July Shutdown of the JKT
July First light on OASIS [ Link ]
23 August BBC's All Night Star Party ! [ Link ]
2004
Rings in the Haloes of Planetary Nebulae [ Link ]
The Largest Known Planetary Nebula on the Sky [ Link ]
First Detection of a Progenitor Star from a Normal Type II-P Supernova [ Link ]
22 April First light on PlanetPol [ Link ]
27 July Commissioning of the new WYFFOS long camera [ Link ]
28 October Discovery of the companion star of Tycho´s supernova [ Link ]
23 November First light on NAOMI's pyramid wavefront sensor [ Link ]
28 October Discovery of the companion star of Tycho´s supernova [ Link ]
2005
9-11 May Adaptive-Optics Assisted Integral-Field Spectroscopy Workshop [ Link ]
6-10 June 2nd Meeting on Hot Subdwarf Stars and Related Objects Conference [ Link ]
4 July Deep Impact mission observed at ING [ Link ]
14 July The Discovery of a Galaxy-Wide Superwind from a Young Massive Galaxy at Redshift z~3 [ Link ]
4 August Most of the Growth of Supermassive Black Holes is Obscured by Dust [ Link ]
11 August A Jet-Powered Bubble Formed in the Gas Around Black Hole Cygnus X-1 [ Link ]
14 October RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting on "Science from La Palma - Looking beyond 2009" [ Link ]
2006
First Observational Evidence of a Dead Cataclysmic Variable [ Link ]
A Gaseous Metal Disk Around a White Dwarf [ Link ]
First Detection of Rubidium in Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars [ Link ]
4 April Users' meeting at NAM 2006: Astronomy from La Palma: Developments and future directions
16-19 May Conference: The nature of V838 Monocerotis and its light echo [ Link ]
1 August IDS spectrograph back to operation on the INT
3 December First light on an L3CCD detector on ISIS
10-16 December IAU Symposium 241: Stellar Populations as Building Blocks of Galaxies [ Link ]
2007
A giant outburst two years before the core-collapse of a massive star [ Link ]
Observational Evidence that Outflows from AGNs Originate as Disk Winds Rotating a Super-Massive Black Hole [ Link ]
The YORP Effect Detected on Near-Earth Asteroid 2000 PH5 [ Link ]
1 April The UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) replaces the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) as ING's owner.
18-22 June Conference: Asymmetrical Planetary Nebulae IV [ Link ]
6 July First Light on GHaFaS [ Link ]
8 August 02:00 UT 1,000,000th CCD exposure obtained [ Link ]
27 November First Light on FastCam [ Link ]
3 December IPHAS Initial Data Release [ Link ]
2008
  The universe shines twice as bright [ Link ]
  First results from the H-alpha galaxy survey [ Link ]
  Detection of naphtalene cation in the interestellar medium [ Link ]
  The extreme Kuiper-Belt binary 2011 QW322 [ Link ]
23 Jun-5 Jul NEON observing school [ Link ]
9 October First light on ExPo [ Link ]
2009
  First ground-based near-infrared direct detection of an extrasolar planet [ Link ]
  First ever spectrum of an asteroid which hit the Earth [ Link ]
  First spectroscopic observations using an electron-multiplying CCD [ Link ]
  Earth's transmission spectrum from lunar eclipse observations [ Link ]
  ING joins the International Year of Astronomy [ Link ]
9 June First light on ACAM [ Link ]
15 July New director for the ING [ Link ]
2010
  First ground-based near-infrared direct detection of an extrasolar planet [ Link ]
  Super-Complex Organic Molecules Found in Interstellar Space [ Link ]
  Comet P/2010 A2, an Activated Asteroid from the Main Asteroid Belt [ Link ]
  PLC Technology Reduces Observing Overheads [ Link ]
22-23 March Workshop on "Science with the WHT 2010-2020" [ Link ]
29 August A stellar raffle [ Link ]
19 September First On-Sky Demonstration of Multi-Object Adaptive Optics [ Link ]
2011
  Discovery of a new class of supernovae [ Link ]
  Galaxy zoo supernovae and the WHT [ Link ]
  The ATLAS3D Project: Replacing the Handle of Hubble’s Tuning Fork [ Link ]
  ING Joins Efforts with GTC to Discover a Galactic Black Hole [ Link ]
29 May Wide-Field Multi-Object Spectrograph WEAVE Proposed for WHT Prime Focus [ Link ]
4 October The ING Telescopes Contribute to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics [ Link ]


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Last modified: 22 January 2012