World Firsts

The United Kingdom Infra-Red Telescope (UKIRT)

The United Kingdom Infra-Red Telescope (UKIRT)

UKIRT opened in 1979 as the world's first dedicated IR telescope. Today, it still ranks as the world’s largest dedicated IR telescope, with a primary mirror diameter of 3.8m. It is operated on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii by the Joint Astronomy Centre.
Infra-Red Camera (IRCAM)

Infra-Red Camera (IRCAM)

IRCAM was commissioned in 1986 as the world’s first facility class IR array camera. It utilized novel 62x58 pixel indium antimonide infrared detector arrays, and was one of the most used instruments on UKIRT until its decommissioning in 2002.

Cooled Grating Spectrometer – 4 (CGS4)

Cooled Grating Spectrometer – 4 (CGS4)

CGS4 was the first astronomical instrument to use diamond turned optics. The aspheric form of these optics allowed an excellent image quality to be obtained over a wide field of view. CGS4 was commissioned on UKIRT in 1992.
Sub millimetre Common-User Bolometer Array (SCUBA)

Sub millimetre Common-User Bolometer Array (SCUBA)

SCUBA was the world's first sub millimetre camera, and is the world's most successful astronomical instrument. Since its commissioning on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii in 1996, the scientific impact of this single instrument has only been surpassed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its suite of four instruments. SCUBA remained operational until 2006.

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