Welcome to the biennial report of the Isaac
Newton Group of Telescopes for the years 2002 and 2003. The period covered
by this report contains many scientific highlights and technical achievements,
combined with significant developments in the organisation and the international
collaborations. This report provides an overview of the main events and summarises
the financial status and scientific output of the telescopes.
A key milestone over the reporting period has been the signing of a new
agreement between PPARC, NWO and the IAC on collaboration in the operation
and development of the ING telescopes. The new agreement implies that ING
now forms a tri-partite international organisation. The new collaboration
fits into the ongoing process of restructuring the observatory, which has
a primary goal of achieving a model for operation that is significantly less
costly to the funding agencies. As a result of this collaboration, the Spanish
community gains more access to the ING telescopes, while the IAC will offer
their newly developed IR spectrograph, LIRIS, as a common-user instrument
on the William Herschel Telescope. Several important scientific discoveries
are reported in the following pages, underlining the continued scientific
relevance of the ING facilities, next to the new generation of very large
telescopes. In particular worth mentioning is the impact of the Wide Field
Survey activities on the Isaac Newton Telescope, which has resulted in expansion
of our knowledge of the galactic structure and of our Local Group of galaxies.
Also visiting instruments such as SAURON and the Planetary Nebula Spectrograph
continued to offer high-impact science results, emphasising the importance
of our strategy to welcome such novel developments.
Looking back on the very successful period covered by this report, it is
important to realise that the achievements have only been possible thanks
to the continued efforts and motivation of the staff. This has been particularly
noteworthy considering the difficult situation as a result of budget reductions.
I hope you will enjoy reading about ING’s activities, the scientific results
and technical achievements at the telescopes.