In some aspects the last several months at the observatory, since the previous
issue of this Newsletter, have been similar to previous years, and in other
aspects there has been major change. To start with the latter, I refer to
the very welcome news that the long-sought development of a laser beacon
for adaptive optics at the William Herschel Telescope has been approved.
Coincidentally, receiving 'green-light' for the project will take on a literal
meaning when some two years from now the projection of green laser light
will become a regular feature above the telescope. The scientific potential
of having the full sky available to adaptive optics exploitation rather than
only about 1% as in the case of 'classical' adaptive optics, is excellent.
Now it is our task to build a working system, and then to scientifically
exploit it. An introductory article on this exciting new project can be found
on the following pages. I would very much welcome ideas and suggestions from
the user community towards this project.
Coming back to the first sentence of this introduction, activities at the
observatory have been as intense as ever. The last several months have once
again seen a range of visiting instruments. Three of them were first-time
visitors, each with their own very significant technical and astronomical
challenges. There was CIRPASS, the near IR spectrograph from Cambridge operating
in multi-object mode. There was PLANETPOL from Hertfordshire, measuring polarisation
with remarkable acuracy in an attempt to detect planets around stars. And
there was S-CAM2, deploying the second-generation of super-conducting tunnel
junction detector technology for a range of science programmes. So yes, work
at ING has gone on as normal and hasn't been boring for a single moment.
Enjoy this issue of the Newsletter, and note that the editorial team would
love to receive contributions from our readers!