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OPTICON. The Optical Infrared Co-ordination Network for Astronomy. John Davies OPTICON Project Scientist. UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC) Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. The OPTICON Vision.

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The Optical Infrared Co-ordination Network for Astronomy.

John Davies

OPTICON Project Scientist.

UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC)

Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

The OPTICON Vision

Develop a stronger community able to build and operate 21st Century facilities for Optical-IR Astronomy

Five year contract for 19,200,000 Euro + substantial national matching funds. Effective 1 January 2004 - 31 December 2008.

47 contractors including funding agencies, user groups and SME.

6 JRAs (~11 Me + extra national funds)

22 Telescope Access Programme. (~5.5Me)

14 Networks (~3 Me incl Management)

Networking highlights
Networking Highlights

  • Management Board brings together all major observatory operators and funding agencies to discuss agreed national priorities and co-ordinate strategic future planning.

  • White book on future of UV astronomy in press, 4 day conference planned May 28th 2007 (poster in our stand)

  • Roadmap of Future Key technologies in place to guide future R & D.

  • Interferometry exchange visits widen this specialised community.

  • All European 2-4m Telescope Directors meet annually in Telescope Directors Forum- already leading to ideas about rationalisation.

  • Transnational Access Office provides point of contact for potential future users of EU infrastructures

E elt progress
E-ELT Progress

  • OPTICON has made real progress in co-ordination, including an agreed approach for an ELT. Science case distributed as a books and CD

ESO-OPTICON E-ELT meeting in

Marseilles at end November 2006

Joint research projects
Joint Research Projects

  • JRA1: Adaptive Optics. : AO for existing 8m such as VLT, GTC, LBT.

  • JRA2: Fast Detectors

    for AO : Contract placed

    for detector

Joint research projects1
Joint Research Projects

  • JRA3: Optical Detectors for HTRA : EMCCD’s for practical test bench, APD arrays, PN Sensors

  • JRA4: Interferometry: Next generation instruments for VLTI.

  • JRA5: Smart Focal Planes: First prototypes of hardware displayed at SPIE meeting in Florida.

  • JRA6:VPH Gratings: Prototype gratings in production

Structuring effect
Structuring Effect

  • OPTICON has catalysed communities such as Interferometry, UV astronomy, solar astronomy to come together and develop wider strategic goals.

  • Several JRA have built very positive pan-European collaborations which are expected to continue into FP7.

  • Rationalisation of European medium telescopes is no longer an impossible dream.

  • Special Efforts are being made to engage with CEE countries.

Towards fp7
Towards FP7

  • We expect FP7 to offer OPTICON-like contracts, with a call in late 2007 and contract start about end 2008

  • OPTICON has resolved to move into FP7 on a wide front, much as in FP6.

  • First planning meeting in Edinburgh in June attended by 70 people and many ideas presented.

Fp7 plans
FP7 Plans

  • Edinburgh meeting proposed about 80 Million Euro of ideas, mostly continuations of existing projects.

  • OPTICON has issued a call for other, completely new, ideas by early October

  • Executive/Board will ‘long-list’ these ideas in late October and ask potential workpackage leaders to work up detailed proposals to be ready by Spring 2007 ready for short-listing and then the EU call for proposals.

Fp7 plans1
FP7 Plans

  • Telescope directors are working on a new, more radical, access programme with more flexibility than existing contract and more emphasis on rationalisation of facilities.

  • Common proposal tool under-development as a first step towards closer integration.


  • A large number of EU optical-IR-night-solar telescopes are open for new communities via TNA

  • EU wide collaborations in R & D have been established and are working well, several patents awarded and spin off already happening.

  • Significant new interactions at funding agency level is leading to co-ordinated planning.

  • The Future for European Collaboration is bright.


WWW. www.astro-opticon.org

E-mail. [email protected]

Phone 44-131-668-8348

Handouts, ELT brochure, overview paper etc can be downloaded from the web page.


Co-ordinator: Prof Gerard (Gerry) Gilmore. Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK.

Project Scientist: Dr John Davies. UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.

OPTICON Board: (Chairperson. Dr Wilfried Boland) comprises 18 partners and sets overall strategy and priorities at annual meeting.

Executive committee: (Chairperson G. Gilmore) make the detailed decisions and meets at least twice a year.

Outreach dissemination
Outreach + dissemination

  • Website (of course) including PDF of brochures

  • Talks at JENAM etc published in proceedings

  • Complete set of handouts (1 per activity) downloadable and can be used as A1 posters

  • Regular presentations at international meetings

  • Visits to national astronomy meetings

  • Stand at IAU conference in Prague

  • Regular column in EAS Newsletter

  • Pens, badges etc