Information for the Project Investigators

Information for the Project Investigators

Project administration and your project homepage

The project administration is carried out through the IFA-UKIRT Observation Management Project (OMP). In preparation for your observations, we assign a project ID, set up the project home page and inform you.

The progress of the observations for your project can be monitored through the project home page, accessible from the “Access a Project” link of the OMP page

Please enter the full project ID to access this page. You will then need to log in with your OMP login ID and password

OMP login ID and password

Each UKIRT user will need an OMP login ID and password to access the project homepage and submit MSBs. If you are an existing UKIRT user, you already would have received your OMP login ID and password. For new users, we will assign a login ID and password and contact them. If you have not received your OMP ID, please contact your support astronomer.

The OMP login ID is permanent in our system and is tied to your email address. If at some stage your email ID changes, please inform us so that it can be updated here.

Whom to contact for support

Once the project homepage is set up, an email will be sent to you from UKIRT, which will contain information about the support astronomer (SA) assigned to your project. The primary support astronomer is the first person to be contacted for any matter regarding your project. The secondary support astronomer steps in when the primary support is away.

Communicating with the UKIRT staff

Please do all communications regarding your project through the OMP feedback system, or make sure to copy your mails to the feedback system. To do this, either log on to the project homepage (see the note above), click on the “Add comment” link on the sidebar and send your message, or send a mail to, with the full project ID enclosed in square brackets in the subject field. If you communicate through the OMP feedback system as above, the mails will get copied to you, any coI listed on the project page, and to the support astronomers. All communications sent through the feedback system will be available for your reference by clicking “Feedback entries” on the menu bar of your project page.

The feedback system is not equipped to handle non-text attachments in the emails to “flex”. If you need to mail any figure, please send it directly to your support astronomers.

Information regarding your observations

Some helpful information regarding the observations can be seen at:

The UKIRT Observing Tool (UKIRTOT)

You will need to create the programme (a collection of MSBs) for your observations using the UKIRTOT and upload them into the database. This will contain all the information required (e.g., telescope slews, dithers, instrument setup, acceptable weather conditions, any notes to the observer) to carry out your observations. These MSBs are executed at the telescope to observe your targets.

You need to install the latest UKIRTOT locally to create the MSBs (see below). The page below gives the details of the UKIRTOT and a link to download:

Please use your omp login ID and password to submit a new program or to fetch your existing program from the database. You will be able to get access to all projects for which you have been a PI or an email receiving coI.

The Minimum Schedulable Blocks (MSB)

Your observing program is composed of several MSBs (minimum schedulable blocks), which we execute at the telescope to carry out your observations. You can set up different MSBs with different priorities (1 highest to 99 lowest). Each MSB is self contained with its own internal priority set by you, the weather (and scheduling) constraints and a show-to-observer note. The weather constraints and the observer notes can be outside the MSB at the top level if common for all MSBs. Since the WFCAM observations are done remotely by people outside the project team, the notes to the observer are important. Please make sure that the notes are to-the-point, and compact.

An MSB will have a priority in the queue based on the priority given for your project by the TAC and the internal priority set by you. Unless there are sufficient reasons for not doing so, the MSB with the highest priority will be observed first. An MSB will be taken up for observations only if the weather is expected to stay within the specifications of the project, so the size of an MSB should be typically less than one hour so that it will be less sensitive to weather changes. MSBs that are very small can lead to large overheads.

The UKIRTOT contains templates for different modes of observations with different instruments. Please use a template suitable for you observations, and change the coordinates of the object (and standard star for instruments other than WFCAM), guide stars, filter, read mode and exposure time.

What happens following the submission of the MSBs?

When a project is set up, the default status is “Disabled”. After you first submit the MSBs for your project, it is a good idea to inform the support astronomer (SA). The SA will inspect the MSBs and inform you if any modification is required. Once any modifications required are done, the project will be “enabled”. It will then go into the queue and the MSBs will get observed as and when they are at the top of the queue.

You will be able to fetch the program from the database and modify any time. If you do any major modification or have questions about some of the modifications you do, please consult with your SA.

The Survey Definition Tool (SDT)

For survey mode observations with WFCAM over a large contiguous area, please use the Survey Definition Tool (SDT) to create the MSBs. The details of the SDT, and a download link for the SDT can be seen at:


Please note that we have only a limited number of staff; you need to take care of preparing the MSBs and uploading them to the database. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Once the MSBs are uploaded to the database, your support astronomer will inspect them, ensure that they are ready to be executed, and enable the project in the queue. You need to take care of any further modifications of the MSBs, like updating coordinates when necessary, changing the internal priorities, changing the exposure time, etc. as needed to ensure the progress of the observations in the queue. Please inform your support astronomer if you do any major changes in the MSBs.

For reviewing your programs, it is best to submit them to the database and send a feedback comment informing us so that it can be fetched from the database and checked. Please avoid sending the MSBs as attachment to the feedback (flex) account.

Acknowledging UKIRT

Please make sure to acknowledge UKIRT in your publications using UKIRT data; the details can be found at:

Observations using WFCAM

When WFCAM is installed on the telescope, the other instruments cannot be used.

Details of WFCAM can be seen at:

WFCAM observations are done by the local staff. The data reduction is carried out by the Cambridge Astronomy Survey Unit (CASU):

The data are not distributed by the UKIRT. The archival and distribution of the reduced data are carried out by the WFCAM Science Archive (WSA):

For the WSA to ingest your data into the database and distribute, you need to register your project with them; it can be done any time (the earlier the better) by visiting the site:

Observations using UIST, Michelle and UFTI

WFCAM will not be available during a Cassegrain block when UIST, Michelle and UFTI are scheduled

Cassegrain observations are more involved than WFCAM observations, so we will need observers from some of the Cassegrain projects to come for observations. If you are allocated telescope time to use Cassegrain instruments, please consult with your support astronomer to learn if you need to come to Hilo.

The details of these instruments are available through the links at:

The UKIRTOT has templates to create MSBs for all modes of observations using these instruments.

For observations using these instruments, the raw data are available for download through your project homepage. The in-house pipeline (ORACDR) reduces the data, but the reduced data products are typically not distributed. You can either copy the data if you come for observations, or can reduce the raw data using ORACDR, which is included in the Starlink software package available for download at:

The data will be in the “sdf” format; you will need to use the “Convert” package of Starlink to convert the data to fits format.

Frequently asked questions