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The ING Support and Research Studentship Programme

The recruitment process for the 2024/25 studentship programme is now closed.

The 2025/26 programme should be announced by February 2025.

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) extends an invitation to astrophysics related PhDs, MSc, and undergraduate students to submit their applications for the 2024/25 ING Support and Research Studentship programme.

The 2024/25 call of the ING Support and Research Studentship programme offers a compelling opportunity to spend a year at the ING. Successful candidates will learn to observe with the WEAVE multi-object and multi-IFU spectrograph recently mounted on the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope (WHT), and will join the ING teams active in instrumental, optical, or software characterisation, development and enhancement of WEAVE.

ING student looking at the WHT telescope with the WEAVE Positioner on the top.

ING student looking at the WHT telescope with the WEAVE Positioner on the top.


In previous years, up to call 2023/24, the ING Studentship programme has been based at the 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) also operated by ING. During summer of 2024 the INT will undergo a major refurbishment to allow installation of HARPS3, a stabilised high-resolution spectrograph which will carry out the Terra Hunting Experiment, THE, a 10-year survey aimed at discovering Earth-mass planets. From 2024 onwards, the ING offers the WHT, equipped with WEAVE, for the core of the students' training experience.

The WHT is operated by the ING at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain). Since June 2022, the WHT is fitted with WEAVE, a powerful multi-object and multi-IFU spectrograph. First science observations started in October 2023, and are due to take full speed in summer 2024. WEAVE will transform the scientific productivity of the WHT with a combination of Open Time observations and Surveys, which are carried out in queue mode by ING observers.

The 2024/25 ING Support and Research Studentship programme offers astronomy and astrophysics PhD, MSc and undergraduate students a unique opportunity to spend one year at ING learning to become proficient observers in the highly-demanded field of wide-field multi-object spectroscopy. After a training period, they will be engaged in observations of the WEAVE surveys and open-time programs, as well as participate in ING projects related to instrumental, optical, or software development, improvement and/or characterisation of WEAVE (approximately 40% of the time). The remaining time is dedicated to their thesis activities or other research interests. Students have the opportunity to seek involvement with one of the WEAVE science surveys or open-time projects, and thus be involved with WEAVE science.

Five positions are offered for 2024/25. Students interested in any field of observational astronomy and/or astronomical instrumentation are welcome, specially those fields related to any of the WEAVE surveys. During their stay at the ING, the students can apply for WEAVE Open Time to the three Time Allocation Committees of the ING partner countries: UK, Spain and The Netherlands.

WHT control room -- WEAVE Observing System.

WHT control room -- WEAVE Observing System.

The ING offers accommodation in ING-owned flats, free to the students. The flats are within walking distance of ING's sea level headquarters. Students also receive a monthly stipend to cover their living expenses on La Palma.

The ING headquarters are located in Santa Cruz de La Palma and have modern computing, data reduction, and communication facilities. Access to a library, meeting rooms, etc. is also provided. Joint seminars with other institutions on scientific or technical topics and also visits to other ORM telescopes will be organised. The astronomical family on La Palma is relatively large, so professional and social contacts are frequent.

Each year, the ING students can volunteer to participate in some outreach activities organised at the ING sea level office and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM), which in the past have included astro-photography and school visits.

WEAVE in a nutshell, produced by Judith Santos and Freya Barwell, ING students 2022/23


The candidate must meet the following requirements:
  1. EU or UK citizenship, or possession of an EU or UK national student residence permit.
    For UK citizens, the post-Brexit rules are now defined, but both sides are adapting their procedures, and obtaining the necessary visas involves some paperwork and expense. ING admin can help with the procedural steps, and ING will cover the costs of obtaining the visas up to a certain limit.
  2. Having the status of "registered student" throughout the year to be spent on La Palma, i.e. enrolment in an astronomy PhD (preferably the early years of the PhD) or MSc program or in the final years of an undergraduate astronomy or physics course at a recognised university or research institution.
  3. A strong interest in observational astrophysics and/or astronomical instrumentation.
  4. A good working knowledge of English (knowledge of Spanish is an advantage).
  5. Ability and willingness to carry out tasks during day or night, occasionally also on weekends or public holidays, at an altitude of 2400 metres above sea level, and to take up residence on La Palma for the duration of the studentship.
  6. The placement is conditional on the student undergoing a medical examination (usually in the home country, to be reimbursed by the ING) to ensure the student's fitness for duty, especially at the altitude of the observatory on La Palma.

Other (non mandatory) criteria

Candidates meeting any of the following (non-mandatory) criteria are particularly welcome:
  1. Citizenship of (or residence in) one of the three ING partner countries: Spain, UK or the Netherlands.
  2. Possession of a valid driving licence, and ability to drive a car, by the time of taking up the position on La Palma.
  3. Research interests similar to those of the WEAVE surveys.
  4. A working knowledge of the Linux/UNIX operating systems and astronomical data-reduction software.
  5. Experience of observing and data reduction.

Public-outreach photographs taken by the 2018/19 students.

INT WFC color composite image of Crab Nebula (M1) by ING student Abel de Burgos

Total Lunar eclipse 20/21 Jan 2019 above the INT dome by ING student Thomas Davison

Terms of training

Following selection for the programme, students sign a Student Internship Placement Agreement with ING. The following summary is for information only and does not entail a contractual obligation:
  1. The duration of the studentship is approximately 50 weeks, preferably starting at the end of September.
  2. Students are not employees of ING, but receive a monthly stipend during their stay. Financial support for travelling to and from La Palma plus one round trip for mid-term vacation, and accommodation for the duration of the internship are provided by the ING.
  3. A vacation period of 23 days is assumed for the students during their 1-year stay at the ING.
  4. Internship activities are planned for an average of 37 hours per week. This includes free time to compensate for night-time observations.
  5. Transport, accommodation and subsistence during observing nights and day-time visits to site are provided by ING.
  6. Office space and appropriate computer facilities at ING headquarters in Santa Cruz de La Palma are provided.
  7. Students, under the guidance of the Studentship Programme Manager and the Head of Astronomy, will be trained in WEAVE observations. Students will be expected to get involved in technical and quality-control activities associated to the WHT and WEAVE.

  8. Other activities during the ING studentship program in La Palma

    ING students visiting the Magic telescope and ORM observatory ING students during the tratitional party of Los Indianos in Santa Cruz de La Palma

    ING and NOT students hiking in La Palma ING students at ORM above Caldera de Taburiente

    Sunset and shadow of Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma

    How to apply

    Applicants should state in a cover letter (1-2 pages) the candidate's past and present experience, compliance with the above requirements, motivation for joining to the ING studentship programme, and any other information the candidate wishes to submit for consideration. A CV must be also attached, and the names of two referees willing to provide letters of recommendations should be given. The ING may subsequently request references for short-listed candidates.

    Applications should be sent by e-mail, NOT LATER THAN FRIDAY 15th of MARCH 2024, to the ING studentship programme manager, at

    Observatory of Roque de los Muchachos

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Last modified: 25 April 2024