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ING instrumentation update 2019-2020

This page reports the current status of the instrumentation plans for the WHT and INT.

During 2019, the ING continues a series of changes (begun in 2017A) in the availability of instrumentation at the WHT and INT, driven by the upcoming commissioning of new instruments at both telescopes. The information below will help you to make the most of the evolving observing opportunities driven by the schedules for these instruments.

We welcome your questions, comments or requests for clarification. Please email Chris Benn, ING Head of Astronomy ( or me (

Marc Balcells
ING Director
Updated to 18th February 2019

Changes at the WHT

  1. New survey instrument. Current plans call for the integration and commissioning of the WEAVE multi-fibre and multi-IFU spectrograph in late 2019 and early 2020, with the WEAVE surveys beginning in spring 2020.

  2. Technical stand-down periods. Science observations at the WHT will pause starting 2 September 2019, to allow time for the above integration and commissioning of WEAVE.

  3. Time distribution and instrumentation in the WEAVE surveys era. We remind users that the start of the WEAVE surveys will mark the transition of the WHT from a classical observing telescope to a mainly survey telescope. We will retain 30% as open time for allocation by the TACs. The instrumentation offered in open time will be WEAVE, ISIS, LIRIS, ACAM and visitor instruments. For visitor instruments the Cassegrain, GRACE and prime focal stations will be available. At prime, only the 40 arcmin corrector will be available for visitor instruments.

    Given the complexity of mounting and dismounting WEAVE, the current plan is to change to other instruments every 9 - 12 months. Open-time accessibility to all RAs will be guaranteed, but only with WEAVE - the scheduling software will handle WEAVE open-time OBs (observing blocks) in the same way as it handles WEAVE survey OBs.

  4. Nasmyth visitor instruments. Visitor instruments requiring a Nasmyth focus (including those instruments formerly deployed in the GHRIL enclosure) can be deployed in the GRACE Nasmyth enclosure. Teams proposing to observe with Nasmyth visitor instruments in future semesters need to communicate with the observatory to ensure any required changes are understood and agreed well in advance.

Changes at the INT

  1. HARPS3. ING has reached an agreement with the Cambridge-led THE (Terra-Hunting Experiment) Consortium for the deployment at the INT of HARPS3, a high-resolution stabilised spectrograph which will conduct a 10-year survey aimed at discovering Earth-mass planets. The THE Consortium will carry out a full upgrade of the INT to allow for remote or robotic operation. 50% of the INT time will be devoted to the THE survey, the remainder being available as open time to be allocated by the TACs.

  2. Downtime. The dates for the INT upgrade will be announced once the project calendar is known. Tentatively, a six-month downtime for the upgrade may be scheduled during 2020, with the HARPS3 instrument arriving in 2021.

  3. Instrument availability. Current schedules suggest that WFC and IDS will likely remain available during 2020A, but not during 2020B. The WFC and IDS will be mothballed once the telescope upgrade starts; the use of the INT prime focus is incompatible with the cadence requirements of the HARPS-3 surveys. We are exploring options for a second INT instrument to co-exist at the Cassegrain focus with the HARPS-3 fibre pick-up unit.

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