Change and evolution are signs of progress, but are not always without pain.
The situation at the ING telescopes is evolving rapidly. The process of restructuring,
focussing on making the ING run at a much reduced cost while still delivering
top-class service to the astronomical community is our form of evolution.
The process will result in a smaller but stronger observatory, based on a
strong team of engineers and astronomers. Moreover, new international relations
are being developed, that will set the scene for the future.
An important milestone was reached on May 6th, with the signing in Tenerife
of the new international agreement for the operation of the ING telescopes
between PPARC, NWO and the IAC. Our new relationship with the IAC holds the
prospect of stronger future collaborations in scientific programmes and projects.
With this partnership, Spain gains nearly 10% of the available telescope
time. In return, the financial contribution from the IAC offsets cost savings
that were required from the side of the UK. Moreover, the IAC is constructing
a world-class IR spectrograph, LIRIS, for the William Herschel Telescope
that will be offered to all users of the telescope, thus adding to the scientific
capability of the telescope.
A second important result of international collaboration in recent months
has been the development of a very large proposal requesting funds to the
European Community under the Framework-6 programme. Many areas of observational
astronomy are combined within this proposal, named OPTICON. The ING telescopes
play a prominent role in the part of the proposal that aims to foster access
to the various telescopes on a truly European scale.
This Newsletter again highlights a number of scientific successes through
excellent articles. Also progress on various projects is reported here. I
trust you will enjoy this issue.