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1st Announcement

Workshop on Science with the Nordic Optical Telescope
Aarhus University, 25-26 October 2012

The original concept for the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) was an independent, general facility for observational projects by Nordic astronomers. However, the scientific and organisational context in which it will operate in the future will be greatly different from twenty years ago when the telescope was built: The future of the NOT will be as a specialised tool in the panoply of facilities available to modern astronomy, focused on scientific fields where it can optimally serve the best Nordic research teams. For this, it is intended to base the future strategic planning for the NOT primarily on a set of large research programmes, proposed and evaluated in a series of five-year cycles.

For the NOT to be maximally competitive in this context, we plan to equip it with a single new, permanent focal plane instrument, offering rapid and flexible optical and NIR imaging and spectroscopic response capabilities on transient and variable sources as its first scientific priority. This will be complemented by the FIES spectrograph, upgraded to yield high-precision spectropolarimetry, and also permanently available. Together with an upgraded data management system, this will make the NOT a very competitive tool for studying a wide range of transient and variable astrophysical sources - extragalactic as well as stellar - in the coming decade.

The NOT Council has decided to organise a workshop to inform the Nordic user community of the NOT about these plans and to get feedback directly from the community. The workshop will also provide an opportunity to forge new consortia capable and interested in proposing large programs and raising financial support to supplement the basic operational budget provided by the Nordic research councils, the owners of the basic facility. We therefore urge participants already now to begin considering the formation of (the cores of) such consortia and to make sure that their interests will be properly represented at the workshop.

All NOT users are therefore invited to a NOT workshop that will take place Thursday and Friday, 25-26 October 2012 at the Stellar Astrophysics Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy at Aarhus University, Denmark. More information will be emailed soon, including the detailed program and information on how to do the registration for the workshop. We hope to see a large fraction of the NOT users at Aarhus University in the end of October.

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