Whilst the telescopes on La Palma keep going strong, a large number of changes
are taking shape at the ING. Last winter important decisions were taken by
PPARC Council that have a profound influence on the UK’s ground-based astronomy
programme. As a result, the UK is now a member of the European Southern Observatory,
but these decisions also imply a siginificant shift in the balance of resources.
One particular implication is a reduction of funds for the ING telescopes
in the future.
In order to offset the reduction of funding from PPARC, a formal partnership
with the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias has been agreed. This
collaboration will further strengthen international collaboration between
the European partners at the ORM, and at the same time reduce the impact
of the reduced UK funding.
Nevertheless, the overall reduction in resources enforces a number of important
changes at ING that will not go unnoticed by ING staff or the astronomical
community that we serve. In this Newsletter you will read how the changes
impact on the service delivered to our user community (see article on page 19).
Another significant development since the previous Newsletter is the creation
of a new observatory advisory body. The creation of this advisory group with
wide international participation and a wide brief, was proposed during the
observatory review last year. I am particularly pleased with the strong membership
of this group, and trust that their experience will help outline future directions
of the observatory.
Apart from the unavoidable ‘politics’ that surrounds the observatory, we
are not losing sight of the significant astronomical results that are being
produced. The articles based on observations with INGRID, S-CAM, CIRSI, NAOMI
and ULTRACAM provide for a number of excellent highlights.