Recent Changes/News

General News

  • As of P104, the use of Group and Concatenation scheduling containers is allowed for Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations. ToO users are invited to familiarise with the updated procedure to trigger ToO observations. The use of time-link containers for ToO observations is not allowed. Use of scheduling containers of any kind is not allowed for Rapid Response Mode observations.
  • As of P104, the allowable maximum Precipitable Water Vapour (PWV) should be provided for all instruments. The default value is set to 30 mm and should be fine for all non-IR instruments. The ETCs can be used to evaluate the impact on data as well as to assess the probability of realisation should the PWV be changed.
  • As of P104, the p2 tool includes a new tab called ObsPrep (observation preparation). It offers the possibility to visualize the observing set-up with the instrument Field-of-View on a sky image, to interactively define the central pointing of the telescope, as well as to choose VLT guide stars or blind offset stars. ObsPrep is available for X-Shooter, MUSE, HAWK-I, ESPRESSO, UVES and VISIR. 
  • As of P103, ESO has implemented a Finding Chart Generation service into p2, called p2fc, which allows the automated non-interactive creation of finding charts for individual or multiple OBs at the push of a button for all Paranal instruments that require finding charts. A detailed description and instructions for usage are available in the dedicated p2fc Finding Charts page.
  • Preparation of the Service Mode observations for all Paranal instruments must be made with the web-based tool p2.
  • For the preparation of Visitor Mode observations for all Paranal instrumentsp2 must also be used. For more information please follow Visitor Mode Phase 2 Guidelines.
  • Observation preparation for La Silla telescopes must be done using web application p2ls, which is a "cousin" of the p2 used at Paranal. 
  • Since Period 96, for most VLT instruments, the former 'Seeing' constraint is now called 'Image Quality' inside the Observation Blocks. As before, for non-AO instruments (as well as GLAO modes of MUSE and HAWK-I) you are expected to enter the requested image quality at the observed wavelength and airmass. This must be consistent with the V-band seeing at zenith you requested in your Phase 1 proposal. Conversions between seeing and image quality can be performed with the Exposure Time Calculator for the concerned instruments. The OB validation script of p2 naturally takes this change into account.

Observatory News

Please have a look at the latest news and events of the La Silla Paranal Observatory. This page covers some important telescope and instruments news from the  various ESO sites.

Additional recent changes/news for SPHERE

Since P102, the maximum allowed NDIT without the need to request a waiver was increased from 30 to 100.

For P103, the SPHERE User Manual was edited to reflect the changes in the instrument and in operations, including new templates and the need to use the ATM constraint instead of the seeing (see below). Make sure to access the latest version.

Two new templates (starhop and hopback, to be used for small hops (< 1 degree) between science and calibrator stars and back) are now available that allows saving time in a concatenation. See the SPHERE User Manual for more information.

The best predictor of the AO performance is a combination of seeing and coherence time. Therefore since P103 we have defined four categories of atmospheric conditions (so-called ATM constraint) based on a combination of seeing and coherence time:

  • the excellent conditions occur when the seeing is below 0.7” and the coherence time is above 7ms
  • the good conditions occur when the seeing is below 0.9”, the coherence time is above 4ms and when we are not in the excellent conditions.
  • the medium conditions occur when the seeing is below 1.0”, the coherence time is above 3ms and when we are neither in the excellent conditions nor in good conditions.
  • the poor conditions occur when the seeing is below 1.4”, the coherence time above 1ms and when we are neither in the excellent, good, nor medium conditions.

Please use these categories in the ATM field when making your OBs. Note that as usual, it is not allowed to ask at P2 more strict constraints than in the proposal.

Please note that due to this change in the constraint set, old OBs will not work in p2. We hope to solve this soon. If you plan to import the OBX file, you need to first edit manually the atm field with one of the above choices.

Since P100, it is possible to use the RRM mode with SPHERE.

We also recommend to check the news on the SPHERE web pages  for the most up-to-date information on the status of the instrument.

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