Public outreach activities have continued
to play an important role at ING. A summary of the main activities is given
Outreach to the general public focussed on many group visits to the telescopes
throughout the year, and general observatory open days for the public during
the summer months. In these ways thousands of interested visitors passed
through the WHT and INT domes, saw the facilities, and received an explanation
of ING’s activities.
The visiting groups included many school pupils. But for more specific exposure
of students to astronomy ING have been working closely with students from
the Cornwall Astronomy School Project who came to La Palma to assist in an
observing programme to get hands-on experience at the JKT. This visit was
an outstanding success and demonstrated the potential of the JKT as an educational
tool. Following this success, also students from a local school on La Palma
and from a second school in the UK observed on the JKT.
Having press material available, and in particular having good photographic
material for the press on-line helps attract quality press interest. For
that reason we started to build an archive of superb astronomical images
for publicity purposes. This work relies on the assistance from the renowned
amateur astronomer Nik Szymanek. The results are shown as collections of
images on the public information web pages.
A number of important guests visited the observatory. Most notably, on June
1st 2000 the Crown Prince of Spain, Su Alteza Real Don Felipe de Borbón
visited the WHT. He was shown the telescope, met the observer (Prof Richard
Ellis) and took an image of the galaxy M51. On the following day the prince
laid the first stone of the GTC telescope, which was the prime reason for
visiting the observatory. Furthermore, the European Commissioner for Scientific
Research, Philippe Busquin, members of the European Parliament, the president
of the commission of Industry, Energy, External Trade and Research, and members
of the Centre for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST) visited the
telescopes on various occasions.
Figure 1. Left: Prof Richard Ellis
explaining his observing programme to look for the Cosmic Shear to SAR Don
Felipe. [ JPEG | TIFF
] Middle: The visiting group at the WHT Prime Focus. [ JPEG | TIFF ] Right:
Image of M51 Galaxy obtained by SAR Don Felipe using the new mosaic Prime
Focus camera. [ JPEG | TIFF
Also various television teams filmed the ING telescopes, amongst them the
Spanish national television TVE, the German ZDF, the Hungarian TV and the
popular BBC programmes “Blue Peter” and “Final Frontier”.
Figure 2. Filming of BBC’s Final Frontier programme.
[ JPEG | TIFF ]