OECD Global Science Forum's Astronomy Workshop to take place in Munich

27 november 2003

On December 1 to 3, the city of Munich (Bavaria, Germany) will be the venue for a "Workshop on Large Scale Programmes and Projects in Astronomy and Astrophysics" organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Science Forum in co-operation with the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The Workshop will be chaired by Ian Corbett (ESO).

The Global Science Forum brings together science policy officials from the OECD countries. The delegates, who meet twice a year, look at a range of generic issues in science funding and seek to identify and maximise opportunities for international co-operation in basic scientific research.

This Workshop was proposed by Germany and agreed by the delegates to the Global Science Forum in June. Government officials and scientists will be able to review in detail the information and the observational and technological advances needed for major progress in the field during the next 15- 20 years. The research subjects reviewed will cover the full range from planets, solar systems, life in the Universe, stars, galaxies, extreme objects to cosmology. Related technological challenges, virtual observatories and other data handling issues will also be considered. The primary objective is to specify the policy issues relating to priority-setting, planning, funding and, above all, international co-ordination and co-operation.

The Workshop will focus on issues relevant to the process through which astronomy advances, and will highlight means to enhance that process in light of longer-term scientific and political trends. There will probably be a follow-up meeting early in 2004, from which a policy level report will be prepared for consideration by the Global Science Forum and so transmitted to governments.

Eighteen delegations, from non-OECD as well as OECD countries, will attend, each consisting of senior programme managers from the national ministry, funding agency or research council, and one or more senior members of the national astronomical community. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) are explicitly represented. Experts from the world-wide astronomy community have been invited to set the stage and provide input for the discussions.

The choice by Germany and the OECD to make Munich the venue of this Global Science Forum Workshop is no coincidence. It is a recognition of the important role played by many institutions in the Munich region in the field of Astronomy and Astrophysics. They include the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität where the Workshop will take place, the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, the Max-Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik and the European Southern Observatory. These institutions are all participating in large programmes and projects in astronomy. ESO, for its part, is at the leading edge of world astronomy with its flagship facility, the Very Large Telescope in Paranal (Chile) and the newly started ALMA project at Chajnantor (Chile), being carried out in partnership between Europe and North America.

Meer informatie

As a prelude to the Workshop, two public keynote presentations will take place on December 1 at the Deutsches Museum in Munich at 18:00 CET. The speakers are Malcolm Longair, Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Head of Laboratory, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge (UK) and Martin Harwit, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, Cornell University, and former Director of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC (USA). The talks will be given in English and the entry to this public event is free. Professor Longair will speak on "Astrophysics and Cosmology in the Twenty-First Century" and Professor Harwit will speak on "The Growth of Understanding of our Universe". You can find more informaton on the Public Talks web page.

A news conference will be held at the close of the Workshop. For further information, or to attend the news conference, journalists may contact Richard West at ESO (tel. 49 89 3200 6276).

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OECD Global Science Forum's Astronomy workshop
OECD Global Science Forum's Astronomy workshop