Spring 2017 News

Last updated 21 February 2017

Proposal Deadline for Semester 2017B (August 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018) is Monday, April 3, 2017, 5PM Hawaii Standard time.

Please review the information and use our ONLINE application form

Available instruments are listed here. Remote observing is offered from any location with broadband Internet access for any project that utilizes IRTF facility instruments. Click here for more information.

Telescope Allocation Committee
The current TAC members are Adam Burgasser (UC San Diego), Peter Capak (IPAC), Henry Hsieh (Planetary Science Institute), Serena Kim (Univ. of Arizona), Nick Moskovitz (Lowell Observatory), Lisa Prato (Lowell Observatory), Silvia Protopapa (Univ. of Maryland), and Constantine Tsang (SwRI). This committee consists of four solar system and four non-solar system members. Chad Bender (Penn. State University) and Michael Wong (UC Berkely) rotated off the TAC effective 2017B.

Help Keep Our Publications List Current
Please continue to acknowledge the IRTF in your publications following the instructions shown here. It is important that you include in your papers the name of the instrument used and the citation for the instrument, as this helps to ensure future funding of IRTF instruments.

IRTF Cool Star Spectral Library
Users are encouraged to make use of the spectral library of FGKM stars, which is available here. Citations for the papers that have been published can be found here. Contact John Rayner for more details.

SpeX Prism Library
A library of more than 1000 prism spectra of low-mass stars and brown dwarfs is maintained by Adam Burgasser, and is available here.

NEO Spectral Survey
The MIT-IRTF Near-Earth Object spectral survey is underway, and many spectra are publicly available. See the side bar for more information or go to


IRTF Director, Alan Tokunaga, and Observatory Manager, Lars Bergknut, both retired at the end of 2016, after decades of service to the telescope and IRTF community. We send them our sincere thanks and very best wishes (and, just in case, we know where you live). The new IRTF Director is John Rayner and the new Deputy Director is Bobby Bus. Imai Namahoe is acting Observatory Manager. We are hiring a new support astronomer.

Dome Resurfacing Project:
The reflective aluminum foil covering the rotating dome is now about 20 years old and has lost much of its reflectivity, which is required for optimum internal dome temperature control. Falling ice has also damaged the integrity of the surface resulting in water seepage and corrosion. We are therefore planning to resurface the dome with new aluminum foil. We expect to start resurfacing in late summer or early fall 2017 and for it to take a few months. Any daytime observing may be disrupted during resurfacing. An outside contractor will do the resurfacing work.

IRTF Data Archive:
Beginning with the 2016B semester, raw data taken with IRTF facility instruments will be made publicly available via an online archive following a proprietary period of 18 months from the date the observations were taken. Caltech’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) will host the archive. Data files obtained during the 2016B semester will be made available to the public through the archive beginning Feb. 1, 2018. Past users of the IRTF may notice small changes in observing procedures that are being made in preparation for the archive, and are necessary to produce more uniform data products that will be usable by other researchers in the future.

Instrumentation Update

SpeX is a 0.7-5.3 micron medium-resolution spectrograph and imager. The current 0.8 micron cut-on dichroic will be replaced with a 0.7 micron dichroic during semester 2017A. This will increase the spectral wavelength grasp for optically guided solar system targets. For more information see the instrumentation page of the website or contact Mike Connelley.

MORIS is a 512x512 pixel Andor CCD camera mounted at the side-facing, dichroic-fed window of the SpeX cryostat (60"x60" field-of-view). MORIS stands for MIT Optical Rapid Imaging System. MORIS was initially made available to IRTF through a grant obtained by Amanda Sickafoose. MORIS can be used simultaneously with SpeX and can also be used as an optical guider for SpeX. MORIS was upgraded during semester 2016B with a newer and more robust Andor camera system. For more information contact Bobby Bus.

iSHELL is a 1.1-5.3 micron cross-dispersed immersion grating spectrograph (up to a resolving power of R=75,000) and imager. The short wavelength limit will be lowered to cover the 1.08 micron He I line during semester 2017B. For more information see the instrumentation page of the website or contact John Rayner.

MIRSI is a 5-20 micron mid-infrared grism spectrograph and imager. MIRSI is currently being upgraded with a closed-cooler (replacing the LN2/LHe cryostat) and low-noise array controller. The upgrade will also include a dichroic-fed optical channel with Andor CCD camera system identical to MORIS (known as the MIRSI Optical Camera or MOC). We expect MIRSI to be re-commissioned during semester 2017B and to become generally available in 2018A. For more information contact Bobby Bus.