On this page, we list the main changes that affected SPHERE and this web site.

  • 24 January 2019: IMPORTANT True North Correction for LSS POSANG setting in IRDIS/LSS templates.
  •         If the targeted companion has POSANG=PA, then set CPRT.POSANG = PA-TN = PA-(-1.75 deg) = PA+1.75 deg in the template.
  • 20 December 2018: User Manual for P103 phase 2 is online. It explains the atmospheric (ATM) categories to fill in the p2 tool. It also describes the new star hopping templates offered starting P103.
  • 15 September 2018: In P103, a new GoTo template will be offered, allowing fast switching (closure of AO loop within 1 minute) between stars of similar R-magnitude and within 1 degree of each other. This template will be particularly suited to Reference (PSF) Difference Imaging (RDI). Details of the template will be provided in the user manual for P103, Phase 2.
  • 1 July 2018: The P102 User Manual for Phase 2 is online. Among other modifications, it includes notes on a
    new grading scheme promoting importance of coherence time, the vast improvement on the LWE effect problem,
    warning that sky offsets are cumulative for both IRDIFS and ZIMPOL and the discovery of a new ghost in IRDIS.
  • 18 March 2018: There are ghosts in some IRDIS narrow band filters. Images of the ghosts can be found here.
  • 29 January 2018: Some filter bandwidths in the user manual are incorrect. Please refer to this link for the correct values.
  • 18 January 2018: The P101 User Manual for Phase 1 is online. It includes dithering for IRDIS_DPI, and a new SLLC apodizer for IRDIS_LSS. The OB time estimates for IRDIS_DPI dithering in P2 (or P2PP) were incorrect before Jan 18. In P2/P2PP, do “File > Download/Refresh Observing Runs” in order to get the new instrument package, and fix the time estimates.
  • 11 June 2017: The P100 User Manual for Phase 2 is online. It includes the new GoTo and RRM templates.
  • 5 March 2017: The P100 User Manual for Phase 1 is online. The SPHERE IRDIS DPI mode can be requested in service mode regarless of the filters but users are invited to provide the position angles which minimize the cross-talk effect, maximize the instrument polarization efficiency, see here. 7-hole Sparse Aperture Masking (SAM) is offered as a new setup for the modes: IRDIS_CI, IRDIS_DBI, IRDIFS, IRDIFS_EXT, ZIMPOL_I (S+V) and IRDIS_DPI (V). Targets with R>11 are now allowed in Service Mode. Since they require the best possible conditions, users should request them with a seeing constraint <= 1.0". For R> 11, H>9 targets, coronagraphs should be avoided as SPHERE might be operated without precise drift control on the focal-plane mask (DTTS-free mode). 
  • The Rapid Response Mode (RRM) will be offered for SPHERE starting P100. There is a also a new User Manual for P100.
  • 26 September 2016: The P99 User Manual for Phase 1 is online. To optimize the polarimetric efficiency of your SPHERE IRDIS DPI OBs (via the user input position angle in p2pp), please download the Excel file accessible on this dedicated IRDIS DPI page.
  • 5 September 2016: A new version of the User Manual for P99 will be published around September 20th. Please download it also for your P98 OB preparation (in VM) as it should present significant corrections/additions. 
  • 25 March 2016: For P98, the SPHERE IRDIS DPI mode can be requested in service mode solely with the BB_J filter for which the instrumental polarization is always >90% regardless of the decorator angle. Polarimetric standard stars are not yet part of the calibration plan and must therefore be provided by the user, when needed.
  • 29 February 2016: The P97 User Manual is valid for P98 Phase 1.
  • 21 February 2016: The PSF was fully recovered on February 18th. Image quality and contrat performances are now back to nominal.
  • 4 February 2016: Since January 19th, SPHERE suffers from a degraded image quality (a factor ~0.9 to the H-band Strehl ratio and a factor ~0.5 to the R-band Strehl ratio). The PSF core has a "cross" like shape". The team is working on finding as solution. SPHERE is kept in operations.
  • 12 January 2016: P97 User Manual update.
  • 28 September 2015: Check the Late Breaking NewsFor P97, observations using the IRDIS_LSS mode should be requested in Visitor Mode. However, if very good conditions are critical for the observations, this mode can now also be requested in Service Mode. A clear justification regarding the need for Service Mode should be provided and will be assessed as part of the technical feasibility review: if very good conditions are not required, the programme will be reassigned to Visitor Mode. Observations using the IRDIS_LSS mode in Service Mode should be requested in a separate run from possible other observations.
  • 24 September 2015: For P97, it will be possible to use the BB_H in IRDIFS mode and the BB_Ks in IRDIFS_EXT mode. Please check the Overview page (bottom) for the offered modes as well as the INSconfig options in the ESOFORM package. As usual, beware of the GTO Projected Target Lists, updated for each period.
  • 27 August 2015: the SPHERE User Manual P96, phase 2 is still valid for P97 phase 1. You may check the ESO Call for Proposals for P97
  •  15 July 2015: the SPHERE User Manual (4th release) for P96, phase 2 is released.  "beta" ETCs are still in use for the whole of P96.  
  • 1 July 2015: "beta" ETCs have been updated. There are now updated Excel DIT calculators for IRDI(F)S and ZIMPOL. P96 time has been awarded, the User Manual and Calibration Plan for phase 2 will soon be available.
  • 12 April 2015: Since April 2nd, regular service mode operations have started with SPHERE. We are doing our best to optimize the quality of the data. However, under very low surface wind conditions (typ. < 1-2 m/s) an even with good seeing, the PSF is affected by aberrations not seen by the adaptive optics. We are working on a scheme to quantify this effect (how bad is it and what are the percentage of affected frames). Meanwhile, we are commenting it when it occurs. If it is strong and affects > 50% of the frames, we will classify the OB as "C" (must repeat). Otherwise, if shallow and < 50% of the time, we classify the OB as "B" (if all other constraints are met) and eventually add some frames. Behind the coronagraph, the effect is such that the telescope spiders aren't well suppressed and some time varying bright speckles appear around the mask. On the F(flux) frames without the mask, the PSF can appear double or with "mickey-type ears" or even quadruple (when very strong). This effect will be somemwhat documented in the next version of the User Manual. For P95, we do not adjust DITs for O(bject) frames but only if F(lux) frames are <500 ADU or > 50000 ADU.
  • 22 March 2015: Late Breaking NewsTo adjust your DIT/NDIT for all 3 SPHERE instruments, please use the "beta" ETCs provided on this dedicated page. Please check for updates. As soon as we have better versions of the regular ETCs, we will let the community know. The current ETCs remain valuable tools to explore parameter spaces (e.g., of contrasts, noise regimes, etc.) for Phase 1 proposals.
  • 27 February 2015: ESO Call for Proposals for P96 online. IRDIS/DPI offered in VM only, P96 release of User Manual to come shortly (March 15th). Please use the P95 release meanwhile (and SV release for information on DPI).
  • 5 January 2015SPHERE User Manual (3rd/last release) for P95, phase 2.
  • 23 December 2014: SPHERE User Manual (2nd release) for P95, phase 2.
  • 4 December 2014: Start of the SPHERE Science Verification.
  • 11 November 2014: Science Verification Time allocated, all PI have been contacted. Please use the new (2nd) release of the User Manual to prepare your OBs.
  • 5 October 2014: Start of SPHERE Commissioning #4.
  • 4 October 2014: ETC v5.1.0 released. Older version computed field rotation incorrectly for pupil-stabilized mode (for declination > -24). Please re-compute execution times for P95 and science verification using new version. 
  • 4 August 2014: Start of SPHERE Commissioning #3.
  • 6 July 2014: Start of SPHERE Commissioning #2.
  • 10 May 2014: Start of SPHERE Commissioning #1.
  • 4 May 2014: SPHERE sees first light at VLT UT3!