Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) operates two telescopes on the island of La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands.

They are the:

  • William Herschel Telescope
  • Isaac Newton Telescope

The ING is operated under a tripartite arrangement on behalf of the UK, the Nederlanse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk (NWO) of the Netherlands and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain. The Director of the ING is Dr Marc Balcells.

The ING’s aim is to develop collaboration between astronomers in the UK, the Netherlands and Spain and ensure that, through continual maintenance and development, these telescopes remain at the forefront of world astronomy.

Key facts

The ING:

  • delivers an effective and coherent telescope programme
  • facilitates world-class astronomical research
  • maintains international competitiveness
  • contributes to development of skills by providing in-house, hands-on training in astronomical observations to graduate students


William Herschel Telescope (WHT)

The William Herschel Telescope is one of the most scientifically productive telescopes in the world and played an important role in discovering that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

Its 4.2 metre primary mirror allows observations from ultra-violet wavelengths to the infrared. The William Herschel Telescope is equipped with a broad range of scientific instruments, and has made important contributions in the fields of observational cosmology, gamma-ray bursts, galaxy dynamics and star evolution, and astronomical instrumentation development. It also plays an important role in the development and testing of technologies for the Extremely Large Telescope.

In the future, the ING plans to fit the WHT with a powerful spectrograph to efficiently gather spectra of millions of stars and galaxies catalogued by other observatories including those on satellites.

Isaac Newton Telescope (INT)

The Isaac Newton Telescope provided the first observational evidence of the existence of a black hole in our Galaxy. It has made numerous other important contributions to research on quasars, supernovae, galaxies, the Milky Way, planetary nebulae and stellar evolution.

The telescope began life in the UK, at Herstmonceux in East Sussex, before relocating in 1984 to the more advantageous astronomical conditions of La Palma, in a new dome, and with a suite of new instruments.

The primary mirror of the telescope has a diameter of 2.5 m. This implies that a 2.5-m mirror is a pre-requisite for imaging.

Currently, the telescope is equipped with cameras which allow both spectroscopy and wide-field imaging.



Marc Balcells
T: +34-922-425-400
For media enquiries please contact: +44 (0)1793 442092

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000