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Scientific Rationale

During the twenty-two years since the ING began operating the WHT, the ING telescopes have had an excellent track record of world-class scientific results in virtually all areas of optical-infrared observational astronomy. With the current International Agreements for Astronomy in the Canary Islands ending in 2012, the ING is discussing its role for the coming decade. As the funding agencies explore post-2012 managerial arrangements, ING would like to involve the astronomy communities it serves in shaping the scientific roadmap for our telescopes.

Our proposed strategic vision for the coming decade is outlined on the ING web site.

A key component of this strategy is a focus on wide-field astronomy, where 4-m telescopes have the potential to out-perform 10-m class telescopes. In this context, ING is studying the possible provision of a wide-field multi-object spectrograph (MOS) for the WHT prime focus. Such an instrument would provide unique capabilities in the northern hemisphere for scientific exploitation of upcoming European-led and international imaging surveys on the ground, and from space. The requirements for such a MOS need to be established by our user communities, who also need to clarify their interest in contributing to the construction and exploitation of this facility.

With the progressive shift towards the Southern Hemisphere provided by ESO telescopes, the ING provides essential access to the northern hemisphere, and there needs to be discussion about the number of instruments (resident or visitor) to be supported on the WHT, the balance between classical, visitor-oriented operations and survey science, and the recommendations of the ASTRONET-sponsored European Telescope Strategy Review Committee, which should be published shortly.

The time is therefore ripe for a workshop bringing together ING observers to share their views on the scientific priorities, the instruments and the operating mode that will keep the WHT a world-class 4-m telescope in the coming decade.


The workshop on March 22 will be devoted to invited 15-minute science presentations, concluding with a discussion period.

Some time will be available for short (10-min) contributed talks. These should focus on highlighting specific improvements that would make our instruments, and the user's science, more competitive. There will also be limited space for posters. If you would like to present a talk or a poster, please provide a title and abstract on the registration form.

On March 23 (morning only) those wishing to be involved in the definition and development of a wide-field MOS on the WHT will meet with the aim of organising a study leading to a proposal to our agencies for the construction and exploitation of the new instrument.

The presentations made at the meeting will be recorded on video, and made available on the ING web site (subject to permission from the individual speakers). We do not plan to publish formal proceedings.