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ING instrumentation update 2017-2019

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

In semester 2017A began a series of changes in the availability of instrumentation at the WHT and INT, driven by the upcoming commissioning of new instruments at both telescopes. Read below so you can 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 19th July 2017

Changes at the WHT

  1. New survey instrument and new telescope control system. Current plans call for the integration and commissioning of the WEAVE multi-fibre and multi-IFU spectrograph in late 2018, with the WEAVE surveys beginning in the first half of 2019. During 2018, the WHT TCS (control electronics and low-level software) will be upgraded. A full status update of the WEAVE instrument will be given in subsequent news releases.

  2. Technical stand-down periods. A number of stand-down periods linked to WEAVE preparation and to the deployment of the new TCS are being scheduled during 2017 and 2018. The next of these is in mid-November 2017. The dates of the subsequent standdowns will to some extent depend on when hardware components are delivered. We will keep the TACs well-informed about these changes, in order that the best possible use can be made of the time available.

    During final integration and commissioning of WEAVE in 2018, science observations will pause for a period of 2 to 3 months.

  3. AF2 availability. From 2017B onwards, AF2 is not offered, to allow for the remodeling of the GHRIL enclosure for WEAVE. It will only be offered in subsequent semesters in the event of significant delays with WEAVE deployment.

  4. WHT PF imaging. The WHT's PFIP prime-focus imager (16-arcmin field of view) is no longer offered. The main optical imaging options at the WHT are now ACAM (8-arcmin field of view) and visiting instrument PAUCam (~40-arcmin field of view), which is available to the ING community.

  5. Moving Nasmyth visitor instruments from GHRIL to GRACE. We are making the GRACE Nasmyth enclosure available for those visitor instruments which used to operate from the GHRIL room; teams proposing to observe with Nasmyth visitor instruments in 2017B and later semesters need to communicate with the observatory to ensure any required changes are understood and agreed well in advance.

  6. 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 (including PAUCam). 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; mounting visitor instruments on the WEAVE corrector would require an additional instrument rotator and cable wrap, and this is not envisioned for a number of years at least.

    Given the complexity of mounting and dismounting WEAVE, the current plan is to change to other instruments only twice a year, and we will investigate observing modes which will maximise open time accessibility to all RAs. The dates of the periods when the WHT will not be devoted to WEAVE surveys will be agreed upon by the ING Board in consultation with the TACs and the Director's science advisory committee (SAC).

Changes at the INT

  1. HARPS3. ING is finalising 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 in Earth-like orbits around the nearest G and K-type dwarf stars. 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 in 2019, with the HARPS3 instrument arriving after that.

  3. Instrument availability. WFC and IDS will remain available until the end of 2018B at least, and will be mothballed once the telescope upgrade starts; the use of the INT prime focus is incompatible with the cadence requirements of HARPS-3 surveys. We are exploring routes for a second INT instrument to co-exist at the Cassegrain focus with the HARPS-3 fibre pick-up unit. This might be a general-purpose, ACAM-lookalike camera-spectrograph. There are as yet no plans or funding for this second instrument.

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