P200 Observer Information

Nighttime long exposure of the open Hale Telescope dome. (Palomar/Caltech)


  1. P200 telescope
  2. P200 schedule/instrument settings
  3. P200 instruments
  4. P200 software resources
  5. P200 autoguider
  6. P200 CCDs and filters

P200 Telescope

Nightly operations of the Palomar 200-inch Hale Telescope (P200) are conducted from a data/control room, and facilitated by telescope operators and support astronomer personnel. Typically observations are conducted in the same data room; in limited circumstances remote observations are supported—see Palomar Remote Observing. Allocation of P200 observing time is handled through independent time allocation process within eligible constituencies, and the allocations are merged into an integrated observing schedule

P200 supports limited remote observing capabilities for DBSP, TSpec, LFC, and WIRC. Interested/eligible parties can find more information on Palomar Remote Observing at our COO Remote Observing page.

P200 Schedule/Instrument Settings

The Lead Observer (LO) identified for each P200 night is the single contact point for all scheduling and logistical matters associated with the observing run. If no distinct LO is designated, the program Principal Investigator serves as LO. Please see the on-line P200 Observing Schedule if you have questions about the LO-designation for an upcoming run.

LOs are responsible for identifying instrument settings at least two weeks before an observing run. Instrument settings (aka Palomar "green sheets") for instruments such as DBSP are defined through the on-line reservation form (available through the observer login portal, or through help request to the P200 Support Astronomer group).

Any questions concerning instrument setups should be sent to Palomar Instrument group. Any other observing/astronomer support questions should be sent to the P200 Support Astronomer group.

P200 Instruments

The Hale Telescope instruments provide a wide range of imaging and spectroscopic capabilities in the optical and near-infrared. PALM-3000 is the new adaptive optics system. It works in conjunction with other instruments including the Palomar High Angular Resolution Observer (PHARO), the Oxford SWIFT integral field spectrograph, and the specialized coronograph Project 1640.

The Hale's seeing-limited imaging instruments include two wide-field cameras: the Large Format Camera (LFC) in the optical and the Wide-field Infrared Camera (WIRC) in the infrared, both mounted at the prime focus of the telescope and covering 24 and 8.9 arcminutes across, respectively. Additionally the new WaSP large-format CCD imager at prime focus will eventually replace LFC as the default prime focus optical imager. The Cosmic Web Imager (CWI) is an imaging spectrograph (integral-field unit) that images over a range of wavelengths simultaneously. Our traditional single-object spectrographs are the optical Double Spectrograph (DBSP) and the infrared Triple Spectrograph (TripleSpec), both mounting at the Cassegrain focus.

Instruments in development include the high-speed CHIMERA camera, and the AO-fed Stellar Double Coronagraph (SDC).

The following is a summary of P200 instrument information/resources:

Instrument Status Documention Links
Prime Focus Large Format Camera (LFC) public SpecSheet   Setup   Checkout   Quickstart   Cookbook   Commands   Data Reduction
Wide-Field IR Camera (WIRC) public SpecSheet   Manual
Wafer-Scale Imager for Prime (WaSP) public TBD   TBD
CHIMERA semiprivate CHIMERA Homepage
Cassegrain Focus Double Spectrograph (DBSP) public SpecSheet   Overview   Cookbook   Calculator   Red Upgrade   Arc Atlas   Guider   Quicklook Data Reduction   Complete Data Reduction (BETA)
Cosmic Web Imager (CWI) semiprivate SpecSheet   Homepage
TripleSpec public SpecSheet   Cookbook
PALM-3000 (P3K - AO) (facility) Observer Info   Manual
PHARO public SpecSheet   Cookbook   Cornell Page
Oxford SWIFT decommissioned SpecSheet   Oxford Page
P1640 private AMNH P1640 Page

Public instruments are those set up and maintained by the Palomar Observatory staff, and are available for all constituencies to use.

Private instruments are those built, set up, and maintained by individuals or groups for their own research. Other observers wishing to use these instruments must to arrange, in advance, a collaboration with the builder.

Semiprivate instruments are similar to the private instruments except that the builders have agreed to make them available to others without the need for a formal collaboration, although consultation may be advisable. Scheduling restrictions may apply, however.

P200 Software Resources

P200 Shepherd Autoguider

Documentation on the Shepherd Autoguider.

P200 CCDs and Filters

A summary of technical specifications for the P200 CCDs is available here.

A P200 filter list, sensitivities and sky background measurements are also available.

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P200 Observer / v 1.3
Last updated: 9 February 2017 AFB/ACM