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Hubble Space Telescope
ACS pointing patterns

Click on any Pattern_Type to view and compare suggested patterns:

small-scale
DITHER
large-scale
MOSAIC
WFC LINE or BOX LINE or BOX
HRC LINE or BOX LINE or BOX
SBC LINE or BOX LINE or BOX

This "library" of pointing patterns is intended to give ACS users a quick way to identify and use, with confidence, a carefully designed pointing pattern which suits their observational goals. These include small-scale dithers (for artifact rejection and/or sub-sampling) and large-scale mosaics (for increasing the field-of-view). Users can always design their own freelance patterns (see below), but for most, the patterns presented above should eliminate the need to calculate pointing parameters oneself.

See the HST Dither Handbook for more information on general considerations for designing dither patterns.

See the ACS drizzling web page for information on reducing datasets involving pointing patterns.


General information about designing ACS pointing patterns, and the "convenience" patterns available for Phase II proposers is provided in ACS dither and mosaic pointing patterns (Mutchler & Cox, ACS Instrument Science Report 2001-07). This webpage describes even more patterns, and the parameters are updated to reflect the latest distortion solutions. Although we don't expect these updates to significantly change the parameters in these pattern forms, you can calculate your own pointing parameters as follows:

Where the current distortion coefficients (just the first two terms of the full 4th-order polynomial) are:

a10 a11 b10 b11
WFC 0.0000 0.0494 0.0494 0.0040
HRC 0.0000 0.0283 0.0248 0.0029
SBC 0.0000 0.0336 0.0301 0.0033

For two-dimensional "box" patterns, the Line_Spacing is calculated like the Point_Spacing, except using the (x,y) pixel shift from the 2nd to the 3rd pointing. The Angle_Between_Sides is the 180 degrees minus the Pattern_Orient of the second segment, minus the Pattern_Orient of the first segment.


The ACS pointing pattern forms defined in the Phase II Proposal Instructions (and available in APT) have logical default values, but can be modified extensively for a wide variety of purposes. Our online pattern library contains both these default or "convenience" patterns plus many commonly-used non-default patterns. Also, generic LINE, BOX, and SPIRAL pattern forms can be used to define pointing patterns which exceed the logical limits imposed on the "named" ACS patterns. Further, all these patterns can be combined (as primary and secondary patterns) in APT, to create complex patterns that simultaneously achieve multiple goals. You are strongly advised to display and review your pointing patterns in the VTT before submitting your Phase II proposal.

Due to the rather extreme distortion and scale variation present in the ACS optics, the larger patterns lose their integrity near the edges of the field-of-view. For example, this diagram shows the variation of the WFC gap dither (5x60 pixel shift) over the entire field-of-view: the y shift (across the gap) varies from 57 to 63 pixels.

A special note about large long-term observing programs

For very large programs, it is impossible to obtain all the observations at the same ORIENT, and more complicated pointing strategies are required. The User Information Report available below describes how Large programs can affect the overall schedule of HST and how observers can optimize their scientific return while minimizing difficulties in scheduling their program:

/hst/HST_overview/documents/uir/UIR_Large.pdf