NOVA Optical IR Instrumentation Group

The spectacular sensitivity and resolution of the observations, made by the largest optical-infrared telescopes in the world, can only be achieved by means of very sophisticated instruments behind these telescopes. Such instruments cannot be purchased "off the shelf" and the NOVA-ASTRON Optical infrared instrumentation group is one of the prominent groups in the field of designing and buiding these instruments.

From the beginning the goal has been to develop instrumentation on/for world-class optical telescopes for the Dutch astronomical community*. In the course of 25 years a wide range of instruments have been built, but in general the emphasis has been on spectrographs, on the infrared wavelength range and consequently on cryogenic instruments.

* In particular this concerns the facilities of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile and the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes (ING) on La Palma.


Engineering state-of-the-art instrumentation is only possible when improved and novel techniques can be applied. Over the years the group has been involved in the design, development and realization of several (part of) instruments for groundbased as well as space observatories, gathering detailed knowledge on optical, mechanical, thermal, manufacturing and test engineering. Through the years this dedicated team built up a reputation in achieving excellent solutions in (opto-mechanical) engineering, and inventing new solutions to meet the stringent requirements. Some examples for this are:

  • Innovative cryogenic lens and mirror mounts
  • Super light weighting of aluminum structures
  • Polishing all aluminum mirrors to an excellent surface figure
  • On assembly manufacturing strategy

These research activities are imperative to stay at the forefront of the instrumentation development in the world, despite the pressure to develop quickly and at minimum risk real instruments. The team is capable of providing the full development process from feasibility studies up to the verification and commissioning of the instrument.


  • Exemplary according to steering committee
  • Group is indispensable for top level IR astronomy in the Netherlands
  • Sinfoni finds oldest galaxy, the group provided the SPIFFI 2K camera
  • Successfully finished E-ELT Phase-A design studies
  • MATISSE OFDR successfully passed; September 2011
  • SPHERE-ZIMPOL Acceptance Readiness Review passed and shipment to Grenoble Dec.2011
  • kick-off multi object spectrographs: 4-MOST, MOONS, WEAVE with WP's for Neth. and NOVA, H1 2011


 Ramon Navarro          Department Head
 Johan Pragt    Department Head
 Felix Bettonvil  Project Manager
 Lars Venema  Systems Engineer
 Ronald Roelfsema        Systems Engineer
 Tibor Agocs  Optical Engineer
 Rik ter Horst  Optical Engineer and Fabrication
 Menno de Haan  Optical fabrication and AIT
 Eddy Elswijk  AIT Engineer
 Niels Tromp  Lead Mechanical Engineer
 Jan Kragt  Mechanical Engineer
 Menno Schuil  Mechanical Fabrication


Tel: +31 (0) 521-595 100

Fax: +31 (0) 521-595 101

Visiting address

Oude Hoogeveensedijk 4
7991 PD Dwingeloo
The Netherlands

Route description 

Helena Kluyver Female Visitor Programme

The Helena Kluyver Female Visitor Programme is part of an on-going effort to improve the gender balance within ASTRON, JIVE nad NOVA. It is part of our commitment to equal opportunities and to encourage women to seek opportunities within a fundamental and applied research environment. Helena Kluyver was one of the first women to actively work as an astronomer in the Netherlands. Read more

Design: Kuenst.    Development: Dripl.    © 2021 ASTRON