P200 Observer Information

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


  1. P200 telescope operations and scheduling
  2. P200 instrument and run location settings
  3. P200 instruments
  4. P200 software resources
  5. P200 CCDs and filters

Please be advised: our longtime Monastery partnership with Yoga in Service Corporation (YISC) ended 30 April 2024. There are multiple reasons for this operations change, but most directly the increased popularity of remote observing for Hale Telescope observers made fixed costs associated with maintaining the YISC partnership unsustainable within observatory resources.

Starting 01 May 2024 the observatory will be providing support for Monastery guests directly, including bedding and towels for monastery rooms, frozen food and other sundries for self-prepared meals, and housekeeping services following guest checkout. Associated with this reduced service level we will be reducing monastery guest fees to $135/guest-night. Monastery guests with specialized dietary preferences are encouraged to bring provisions to support their Palomar stay. For additional information please see:

Updated Tue 14 May 2024 4:41 am PDT

P200 Telescope Operations and Scheduling

Nightly operations of the Palomar 200-inch Hale Telescope (P200) are conducted from a data/control room on the Hale dome observing floor, and facilitated by telescope operators and support astronomer personnel. Allocation of P200 observing time is handled through independent time allocation processes managed by eligible constituencies, and allocations are merged into an integrated observing schedule (managed within our Observatory Reservation System. Please see our Palomar Observer FAQ document for more information.

P200 Instrument and Run Location Settings

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

Instrument Settings

Lead Observers are cognizant for specifying instrument settings not less than two weeks in advance of an observing run. Instrument settings forms (aka Palomar "green sheets") for facility instruments such as DBSP are available through the Reservation System (available through the observer login portal to authenticate credentials), or through a help request to the Palomar support team. Please see the Observer FAQ elements 2.d and 2.e.

Observing Location

In addition to in-person observing from the data room, Hale operations support options for remote observing (RO) from either dedicated remote observing rooms or alternate sites using VNC and zoom videoconference software. Cognizant observers are required to specify observing locations (local or remote) and remote parameters through a run location form (also available through the observer login portal to authenticate credentials – FAQ 2.i). These arrangements must be made not less than two weeks in advance of an observing run.

Remote Observing

Detailed remote observing information can be found at our P200 Remote Observing page.

Questions concerning observing setups or any other logistical issues should be sent to the Palomar support team.

P200 Instruments

The Hale Telescope instruments provide a wide range of imaging and spectroscopic capabilities in the optical and near-infrared.

The Hale's seeing-limited imaging instruments include two wide-field cameras: the Wafer-scale imager for Palomar (WaSP) CCD imager in the optical and the Wide-field Infrared Camera (WIRC) HgCdTe imager in the infrared, both mounted at the prime focus of the telescope and covering 24 and 8.9 arcminutes across, respectively. The high-speed CHIMERA imager operates in electron-multiplied photon-counting mode at prime focus for precision photometry. At Cassegrain focus, the Cosmic Web Imager (CWI) is an imaging spectrograph (integral-field unit) that images a 1-arcmin FoV over a range of wavelengths simultaneously. The traditional single-object spectrographs, the optical Double Spectrograph (DBSP) and the infrared Triple Spectrograph (TripleSpec), both also install at the Cassegrain focus.

PALM-3000 is the facility high-Strehl ratio AO system for the Hale Telescope. It works in conjunction with a suite of back-end instruments, including the workhorse imaging spectrometer Palomar High Angular Resolution Observer (PHARO) and Palomar Radial Velocity Instrument (PARVI), an ultra-stable diffraction-limited, high-resolution infrared spectrograph focused on exoplanet science using both the radial velocity technique and high-contrast, high-dispersion coronagraphy.

Palomar’s newest initiatives are NGPS, a modern highly-efficient workhorse moderate-resolution optical spectrograph under development to replace the nearly 40-year-old DBSP, and SIGHT, a compact facility ultraviolet laser-guide-star adaptive optics system that will integrate with the P200 telescope to provide broadband wavelength seeing improvement to a range of optical-to-infrared wavelengths at any location on the sky. NGPS and SIGHT are both expected to enter routine science operation in 2023.

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

Instrument Status Documention Links
Prime Focus Wide-Field IR Camera (WIRC) public SpecSheet   Manual
Wafer-Scale Imager for Prime (WaSP) public SpecSheet   Manual
CHIMERA public SpecSheet   Manual  CHIMERA Homepage
Cassegrain Focus Double Spectrograph (DBSP) public SpecSheet   Overview   Cookbook   Calculator   Red Upgrade   Throughput   Arc Atlas   Guider   Data Reduction
Cosmic Web Imager (CWI) semiprivate SpecSheet   Manual   Homepage
TripleSpec public SpecSheet   Cookbook
PALM-3000 (P3K - AO) (facility) Observer Info   Manual
PHARO public SpecSheet   Cookbook   Cornell 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 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.

Questions? We've answered many common observing and operations questions in our observer FAQ page.
Please share your feedback on this page or any other Palomar topic at the COO Feedback portal.

P200 Observer / v 1.3.12
Last updated: 19 August 2022 ACM