Spring 2007 News

Last updated 01 March 2007

Proposal Deadline for August 1, 2007-January 31, 2008
Fall 2007 semester observing proposals are due on Monday, April 2, 2007. See the information and application form here. The current application form, revised in February 2007, must be used. Available instruments include (1) SpeX, a 1-5 micron cross-dispersed medium-resolution spectrograph (up to R = 2,500); (2) CSHELL, a 1-5 micron high-resolution spectrograph (up to R = 30,000); (3) MIRSI, a 5-25 micron camera and low-resolution spectrometer (R = 100 to 200), (4) NSFCAM2, a 2048x2048 pixel, 1-5 micron camera with a 0.04 arcsec/pixel scale and a complement of discrete filters, CVFs, and grisms; and (5) PI-instruments including a low-resolution 3-14 micron spectrograph and high-resolution spectrographs for 8-25 microns. Note that TEXES is not available at the IRTF during this semester. Information on available instruments can be found at Remote observing from any location will be supported.

Telescope Allocation Committee
The current TAC members are Yan Fernandez (U. Central Florida), Dave Glenar (Goddard), Dean Hines (Space Science Inst.), Ellen Howell (Arecibo Observatory), James Muzerolle (U. of Arizona), and Jeff Valenti (STScI).

Spectral Library Now Available!
The SpeX spectral library for FGKMLT stars is now available here. The spectra are provided in FITS and text formats. The papers by John Rayner, William Vacca, and Michael Cushing presented at this website should be referenced when this library is used.

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

Science Highlights and Publications
Our Science Highlights page is updated regularly as we receive the latest highlights from you. These highlights are sent to our funding agencies, NASA and NSF, to keep them abreast of the exciting and useful science obtained at the IRTF.

Please keep submitting your recent publications using the form provided on our website, or send your reprints to Karan Hughes ( Please acknowledge the IRTF in your publications following the information shown here and include in your papers the name of the instrument used, as this helps to insure future funding of IRTF instruments.

Instrumentation Update
NSFCAM2, with a 2048x2048 array, has been used on a conditional basis because of the high read noise, which decreases the sensitivity in the low-background filters (including J, H, and K). Several causes of the excess noise have been identified, and solutions are being implemented. Once all the solutions are applied, the read noise is expected to be about 18 to 20 e-rms. Some of the solutions require custom replacement components, which has resulted in delays. For the status of this instrument, contact Eric Tollestrup (

New Secondary Mirror
Eric Tollestrup has obtained an NSF grant to measure the spherical aberration of the primary mirror and to fabricate a new secondary mirror with a surface figure that removes the spherical aberration and other high-order aberrations. This new secondary mirror is called the Phase Compensating Secondary, or PhCS. The first stage of this project is to fabricate a prime focus instrument package (including a prime focus camera, knife-edge test, Hartmann wavefront sensor, and a guide camera) to characterize and measure the aberrations of the primary mirror. The first engineering run with this new camera is planned for April.

Remote Observing
During the Fall 2006 semester, the percentage of telescope time that was used remotely grew to 60%. Observers find that saving travel time and money makes remote observing very appealing. First-time observers are advised to be on-site for their run. If you wish to change to remote observing, please inform your support astronomer as soon as possible, since we need to arrange for a second person to be at the summit with the telescope operator. If you are a new user of remote observing, we will also need time to test the network connections.