As in previous years thousands of visitors were shown the WHT and the INT,
many as part of the annual observatory open days during the summer, but also
through a large number of official visits, of which as much as 40% were schools.
In total, ING welcomed 8206 visitors (5656 in 2004 and 2550 in 2005) in 317
tours. Some of our visitors in the reporting period were the Spanish and Dutch
ministers of Science and Education and the Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque.
Coinciding with the fiesta of La Bajada de la Virgen de Las Nieves, a new model
for organising tours on Open Days in order to reduce the impact on the observatory
operations was tested in 2005. Visitors were asked to book online their tours
well in advance. The total number of visits per open day was reduced from
previous years while increasing the number of days to five.
All these activities help strengthen the ties between the observatory and
the public on La Palma. Moreover, apprenticeships for a small number of technical
students from La Palma have been hosted by the ING, providing further added
value of the observatory to the local community. And ING also helped the foundation
of the "Sociedad de Estudios Generales de la Isla de La Palma",
a local society devoted to general research of La Palma.
ING continued to provide young highschool students with first contacts with
professional telescopes and hands-on experiences, through the participation
in night observing. One of the initiatives we supported was "WINT",
a Dutch national competition for young students organised by the NOVA school.
Students had to prepare their own observing programmes and the winners were
awarded with two nights on the INT. Another example was from the Marlborough
school from the UK, that organized a trip for 5 students and teachers to join
the observer at the INT for two nights.
Figure 60. Top: Students at the INT control room
during WINT observations [ JPEG | TIFF
. Bottom: Students from Marlborough School paying attention to
the explanations given by the INT observer [ JPEG
Other public activities included the participation of several ING astronomers
in the La Palma summer university and in the celebration of the European Science
and Technology Week in 2004 and 2005. The public outreach group of OPTICON has members
from the CCI institutions and was set up to promote the organisation of common
public activities at the Canarian Observatories. Apart from the support to
the organization of visits to the ORM and the Open Days in summer, the group
has also printed a collection of brochures for each astronomical facility
in Spanish and in English and it has organized a traveling exhibit that has
been displayed at the airport terminals.
Finally, ING also gave support to the inauguration of SuperWASP and for making
public the results from Deep Impact at the ING telescopes.
ING has been particularly active on scientific outreach activities during the
reporting period. A workshop on "Adaptive-Optics Assisted Integral-Field
Spectroscopy" was organised on La Palma (9–11 May 2005) which attracted
some 60 participants from around the world. This workshop was inspired by the
availability of the OASIS integral field spectrograph on the WHT and of the
plans to develop a laser guide star system as well. The proceedings were published
in: René, R. G. M., Benn, C., Méndez, J., 2006, New Astronomy
, 487. A joint Isaac Newton Group and Nordic
Optical Telescope Conference on "Hot Subdwarf Stars and Related Objects"
took place also on La Palma (6-10 June 2005), again with over 60 participants.
The proceedings were published in: Østensen, R., 2005, Baltic Astronomy
. Both conferences included a public talk and a press conference.
And finally a dedicated session focussing on the scientific achievements and
the future of the ING was held in London under the auspices of the Royal Astronomical
Figure 61. Announcing poster of the workshop on
‘Adaptive-Optics Assisted Integral-Field Spectroscopy’
Four issues of the ING Newsletter and the Biennial Report 2002–2003
were launched in the reporting period. Also remarkable is the large number
of requests for using the images and photographs from our public archives
in magazines, books, web sites or exhibitions in museums. The production of
new public astronomical images is of vital importance to continue satisfying
this high demand.
Figure 62. Top: Image of M81 galaxy obtained using
the Wide Field Camera on the INT [ JPEG
| TIFF ]
. Bottom: NGC 7271 galaxy as
observed with the Prime Focus camera on the WHT. Both images were
incorporated to ING’s public archive of images [ JPEG