In the previous issue of this Newsletter I reported on the initiation of
a project for the development of a Rayleigh laser guide star beacon, GLAS,
for the WHT. Since then much work has gone into this project, and an important
milestone was passed in January with the successful completion of the Preliminary
Design Review. The positive outcome of that review implies that the project
now moves towards the final design stage, and real money on hardware can
now be spent. For example, the solid-state laser system will be purchased
shortly. GLAS is a complex and demanding development, with exciting science
prospects that make this project worthwhile; watch this space !
Another key event that will take place during the summer of this year is
an independent international review of the ING, commissioned by the ING Board.
The high-profile committee of four world-renowned astronomers will focus
specifically on the medium-term future of the observatory. The views of the
wider astronomical community —your views— will play an important role, and
to that effect a community questionnaire has been released to provide an
easy input channel. Until May 31st input can
be provided through: http://www.ing.iac.es/AboutING/questionnaire_form.html.
In this issue of the Newsletter you will find a fine cross section of science
results obtained from the telescopes. But let me point you also to the contributions
by S. Hameed that so nicely captures the excitement
of conducting astronomical observations, and the one by N. Douglas on a very special public outreach activity.
I end this introduction with two sad notes: Our friend and colleague, Charles
Benneker, passed away in October last year. Charles had worked at the observatory
for over a decade, specialising on electronics systems and instrument control
systems. Charles will be dearly missed and not be forgotten by his friends
and colleagues. A commemorative plaque will be located on the WHT.
We were equally shocked to hear that Emilios Harlaftis died as the result
of a tragic accident. Emilios had spent several years working at the observatory
as support astronomer. After moving back to the UK, and later to his home
country, Greece, he always kept close scientific and personal ties with the
observatory on La Palma. He will be remembered for his contribution to science
and his unconditional enthusiasm for astronomy and the observatory.