Thursday, January 25, 2007

Corot sees first light!

The first light detected by COROT comes from the constellation of the Unicorn near Orion, the great 'hunter' whose imposing silhouette stands out in the winter nights.

On 18 January, the telescope was carefully aligned with the region to be observed, facing away from the centre of our Galaxy. This setting that will be maintained until April, when the Sun's rays will start to interfere with the observations.

COROT will then rotate by 180 degrees and will start observing the opposite region towards the centre of the Milky Way. In the meantime the COROT scientists are preparing for the science phase to start in February, continuing a thorough examination of the data and the information collected so far.

More on COROT sees first light! from ESA International
Developing a new vision for European astronomy

Michael Bode, Professor of Astrophysics at Liverpool John Moores University, has been charged with the vital task of developing the new 'roadmap', which will act as the blue print for the development of astronomy in Europe over the next 20 years. The roadmap will detail the infrastructure needed to deliver European astronomy's science vision - being agreed at a conference in Poitiers now (23-25th January 2007) hosted and organised by ASTRONET, a consortium of eleven European Science Agencies.

ASTRONET has an extensive brief covering all astrophysical objects from the Sun and Solar system to the global structure of the Universe, as well as every observing technique, in space and from the ground, and from radiation at any wavelength to astroparticles and gravitational waves.

Big questions remain in our understanding of the Universe, and ASTRONET has divided these challenges into four scientific areas:

Do we understand the extremes of the Universe?
How do galaxies form and evolve?
How do stars and planets form?
How do we fit in?
Answering these questions will require development of existing infrastructure as well as European wide investment in new facilities.
Different Constellations, Different Times by Astroprof

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