The NRT will be co-located with the Liverpool Telescope (LT) at the Observatory Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on the Canary Island of La Palma. The site, established in 1985, is one of the best in the Northern Hemisphere for optical astronomy. At an altitude of 2396 metres (7861 feet), the ORM hosts 15 telescopes covering solar, optical and gamma-ray astronomy.
The NRT will be built on the site of the disused Carlsberg Meridian Telescope, close to the William Herschel Telescope, using some existing infrastructure and buildings, along with a new observatory with the iconic clamshell design of the LT.
The site selection was motivated by the close proximity of the LT. This affords many advantages to the project as the ORM is familiar to the team and co-location simplifies logistics as there are existing facilities. The NRT and LT will combine as a joint facility, exploiting the two telescopes to provide rapid and efficient follow-up of transient sources.
The presence of the NRT on the ORM will be complementary to the specialised observing roles being adopted by the ING telescopes. The multi-object spectrograph, WEAVE, on the WHT, will deliver statistically complete catalogues of object population for which the NRT can perform follow-up of the variable and rare sources not well suited to the multiplexed WEAVE model.
The NRT will play a key role in monitoring the Northern transient sky (e.g. gaia, aLIGO/Virgo candidates, GRBs, ZTF, CTA, IceCUBE). La Palma is also sufficiently equatorial that many VRO LSST targets will be visible for ~4-6 hours per night. Co-location with the GOTO gravitational wave counterpart finder and the LT (which will transition to a wide field survey/transient detection machine) also adds value.