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Home > Public Information Chronology of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

Chronology of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

William Herschel Telescope
1675 The Royal Observatory founded at Greenwich by King Charles II
15 Nov 1738 Frederick William Herschel born
1781 William Herschel discovers Uranus
26 Aug 1822 Death of Frederick William Herschel
1856 First astronomical observations in the Canary Islands by Charles Piazzi Smyth 
1948-1958 The Royal Observatory is moved from London to Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, and renamed the Royal Greenwich Observatory
1967
Jan Hermann Brück, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, first proposes the construction of a Northern Hemisphere Observatory (NHO) 
1969
Jan 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
Apr John Alexander of the Royal Greenwich Observatory visits La Palma
Aug 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 
Nov  Flight over the mountain top in La Palma by JOSO (Joint Organization for Solar Observations) team
Dec John Alexander states: "The ideal solution may be an international observatory site on the island of La Palma." 
1972
2 Jul 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 Jul 2 to Jul 21
11 Jul First British astronomers arrive in La Palma
6 Aug 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
Aug 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
Nov The proposals for the present WHT, INT and JKT are accepted by the Science Research Council
25 Nov Site testing observations begin in Fuente Nueva
Dec 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
Nov Tests for night site observing are completed
1978
1979
8 Mar 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 
1980
May The SRC approves the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope
1981
18 Jun 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.
September First RGO staff come to live on La Palma
Nov Contract placed for construction of the William Herschel Telescope
1982
September First Dutch technician begins work at Herstmonceux under Anglo-Dutch collaborative programme
1983
May Construction of William Herschel Telescope building begins
September La Palma Observers' Guide issued
Nov First light through the Carlsberg Automatic Meridian Circle
1984
Apr Patrick Moore films Sky at Night on La Palma
September  Start of tests at Grubb Parsons of William Herschel Telescope
Dec William Herschel Telescope dismantled, packed and stored. Effective closure of Grubb Parsons
1985
Jun  Completion of road to Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory
29 Jun Royal Inauguration of the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma
Aug Opening of Residencia on Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory
1986
1987
1 Jun First Light on the WHT
15 Aug First Light on TAURUS II
22 Aug 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
OctFirst light on FOS-2 [more]
1988
AprThe Ground-based High Resolution Imaging Laboratory (GHRIL) sees first light [more]
31 OctThe Spanish Government approves the Sky Law
1989
First images of features on the surface of a star (other than the Sun) [more ]
First detection of gravitational microlensing events [more ]
Identification and optical monitoring of a binary millisecond pulsar [more ]
AutumnFirst light on ISIS [more]
1990
Starspots discovered in binary systems [more ]
1991
RGO moves to Cambridge
Jul The first infrared array is used at ING. It was a 58×62 pixel InSb chip mounted inside the FAST camera. [more]
NovFirst light on the Utrecht Echelle Spectrograph [more]
1992
The best-ever stellar-size black hole candidate in a compact binary system is discovered [more ]
13 Mar 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 [more
NovFirst light on the Prime Focus Camera [more]
1994
OctFirst light on Autofib-2 [more]
1995
First ever observations of a brown dwarf [more]
The deepest ground-based image in B-band [more]
AprFirst light on Wyffos spectrograph [more]
1996
The WHT observes a star in real-time evolution, the Sakurai object [more ]
1997
28 Feb First detection of a gamma-ray burst in optical light [more ]
16 Apr Comet Hale-Bopp: First ever images of a neutral gas tail in a comet (discovered using the ING CoCAM camera) [more ]
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 [more]
31 Oct Closure of RGO.
1999
Cosmic flow of galaxies across one billion light years of the Universe [more]
Feb First on-sky observations using a Superconducting Tunnel Junction detector: First light on S-Cam [more]
Feb First light on Sauron Spectrograph [more]
September First light on the new Prime Focus Camera [more]
September First sodium laser beacon at La Palma [more]
2000
New evidence that galaxies formed early in the history of the universe [more]
16 Mar First light of INGRID [more]
2 Jun Crown Prince of Spain observes at the William Herschel Telescope [more]
14 Aug First light of NAOMI [more]
2001
The WHT one of the most science productive telescopes in the world [more]
International review of ING [more]
7-11 May First scientific conference organised by ING [more]
16 Jul First light on the Planetary Nebula Spectrograph [more]
24 Jul First light on the new Small Fibre Module of Autofib2/WYFFOS [more]
20 Oct Science from La Palma - Past, Present and Future, a workshop organised by ING in honour of Dr Paul Murdin. [more]
2002
First ever adaptive optics observation of a Near Earth Asteroid [more]
May First Light on OSCA [more]
16 May First Light on ULTRACAM [more]
27-31 May A Euroconference Organised by the ING: “Symbiotic Stars Probing Stellar Evolution”, La Palma, 27–31 May 2002 [more]
31 Jul Decommissioning of UES
Aug RoboDIMM starts observing [more]
2003
9-11 Jan NAOMI Workshop [more ]
15 Feb First Light on LIRIS [more]
2 May Inauguration of GRACE [more]
6 May Signing of agreement with IAC to become a partner
26-30 May Satellites and Tidal Streams, an ING–IAC Joint Conference [more ]
Jul First light on OASIS [more]
2004
First Detection of a Progenitor Star from a Normal Type II-P Supernova [more]
22 Apr First light on PlanetPol [more ]
27 Jul Commissioning of the new WYFFOS long camera [more ]
28 Oct Discovery of the companion star of Tycho´s supernova [more]
28 Oct Discovery of the companion star of Tycho´s supernova [more ]
2005
9-11 May Adaptive-Optics Assisted Integral-Field Spectroscopy Workshop [more ]
6-10 Jun 2nd Meeting on Hot Subdwarf Stars and Related Objects Conference [more ]
4 Jul Deep Impact mission observed at ING [more ]
14 Jul The Discovery of a Galaxy-Wide Superwind from a Young Massive Galaxy at Redshift z~3 [more ]
4 Aug Most of the Growth of Supermassive Black Holes is Obscured by Dust [more ]
14 Oct RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting on "Science from La Palma - Looking beyond 2009" [more ]
2006
First Observational Evidence of a Dead Cataclysmic Variable [more]
A Gaseous Metal Disk Around a White Dwarf [more]
First Detection of Rubidium in Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars [more]
4 Apr 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 [more]
3 Dec First light on an L3CCD detector on ISIS
10-16 Dec IAU Symposium 241: Stellar Populations as Building Blocks of Galaxies [more]
2007
A giant outburst two years before the core-collapse of a massive star [more]
Observational Evidence that Outflows from AGNs Originate as Disk Winds Rotating a Super-Massive Black Hole [more]
1 Apr The UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) replaces the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) as ING's owner.
18-22 Jun Conference: Asymmetrical Planetary Nebulae IV [more]
6 Jul First Light on GHaFaS [more ]
8 Aug 02:00 UT 1,000,000th CCD exposure obtained [more ]
27 Nov First Light on FastCam [more ]
2008
  The universe shines twice as bright [more]
23 Jun-5 Jul NEON observing school [more]
2009
15 Jul New director for the ING [more]
2010
22-23 Mar Workshop on "Science with the WHT 2010-2020" [more]
2011
  Galaxy zoo supernovae and the WHT [more]
2012
Riding the Wake of a Merging Galaxy Cluster [more]
Under the 'Dark Halo' Old Galaxies Have Many More Stars [more]
Masgomas-1: A Very Massive Stellar Cluster [more]
The Transiting Earth [more]
The Cold Veil of the Milky Way Stellar Halo [more]
First Evidence of the Relation Between Jets in Planetary Nebulae and Mass Transfer and Accretion in Close Binaries [more]
A Hypergiant Star (Partially) Traversing the Yellow Evolutionary Void [more]
Imaging Polarimetry of Circumstellar Environments with ExPo [more]
22-23 March Workshop: La Palma and Calar Alto Observatories, Science in the Next Decade [more]
2013
Probing Nuclear Activity Versus Star Formation Using Near-Infrared Multi-Object Spectroscopy [more]
Prof. Vikram Dhillon is Awarded the 2013 Royal Astronomical Society Jackson-Gwilt Medal for the Development and Operation of ULTRACAM [more]
SAURON Team Gets the 2013 Group Achievement Award of the Royal Astronomical Society [more]
Accretion on a Very Rapidly Spinning White Dwarf Observed Using an L3CCD [more]
A Dust-Obscured Massive Maximum-Starburst Galaxy in the Early Universe [more]
Discovery of the First Isolated Compact Elliptical (cE) Galaxy [more]
The Rapid Assembly of an Elliptical Galaxy of 400 Billion Solar Masses at a Redshift of 2.3 [more]
WHT and GTC Follow Up Main Belt Comet P/2012 T1 (PANSTARRS) [more]
ING Science Strategy 2013 - 2022 [more]
2014
The Music of the Galaxies [more]
Discovery of Circularly Polarised Light in a GRB Afterglow [more]
Spectro-Astrometry of V1515 Cygni with Adaptive Optics [more]
One of Most Accurate Measurements of the Size of a Trans-Neptunian Object from a Stellar Occultation [more]
21 Aug Report on instrumentation at the ING Telescopes [more]
2015
First Observational Proof of Existence of a Double-Degenerate, Super-Chandrasekhar System [more]
Direct Evidence for an Evolving Dust Cloud from an Exoplanet []
Mergers of Galaxy Clusters Can Trigger Star Formation [more]
Binarity in Planetary Nebulae Gives Clues to Understand the Abundance Discrepancy Problem [more]
Fresh Evidence for How Water Reached Earth Found in Asteroid Debris [more]
WHT Observes Pluto in Support of NASA's New Horizons Mission [more]
Common Accretion across Young Stellar Objects, White Dwarfs, Black Holes and Supermassive Black Holes [more]
ING Telescopes Provide Unique Observations in Support of the ESA Rosetta Mission [more]
3 Jun First Light on PAU Camera [more]
2-6 Mar Conference: Multi-Object Spectroscopy in the Next Decade - Big Questions, Large Surveys and Wide Fields [more]
2016
Fast and Furious Black Hole Observed with the William Herschel Telescope [more]
Lucky Imaging of the Multiple T Tauri System LkHα 262/LkHα 263 [more]
Three Supernova Shells Around a Young Star Cluster [more]
An Extremely Weak Magnetic Field in a White Dwarf [more]
A Radio Pulsing White Dwarf Binary Star [more]
CANARY's Sodium Laser Guide Star Successfully Commissioned [more]
A Deficit of Dark Matter in Elliptical Galaxies [more]
11 Jun Stephen Hawking Visits La Palma [more]
2017
An Intrinsically Very Luminous Lensed High-Redshift Galaxy [more]
New Light on Dark Matter Halos [more]
Newly Discovered Planets Could Have Water on Their Surfaces [more]
Stars Regularly Ripped Apart by Black Holes in Colliding Galaxies [more]
Superbubbles in the Interstellar Medium of the Antennae Galaxies [more]
A Large Fraction of Rapidly-Growing Supermassive Black Holes Evade Census [more]
The Puzzle of Ultra-Diffuse Galaxies [more]
Transmission Spectroscopy of Hot Jupiters Reveals Contrasting Atmospheres [more]
Signing of the Agreement for the Scientific Exploitation of the William Herschel and Isaac Newton Telescopes [more]


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Last modified: 29 October 2017