BBC Live Stargazing Astrocast

Its been a while since I have posted here,  almost a year has passed since the closing ceremony of the International Year of Astronomy and as a legacy to IYA a number of initiatives have carried on carrying the torch of astronomy/science communication. One of these initiatives is Global Astronomy Month, which says what it

Renovation of the German-Spanish agreement for the future of Calar Alto

After many moths and a lot of work …. (and this is one of the reasons why I was not active writing posts, or in science) ….

We have an agreement! Calar Alto Observatory (Almería, Southern Spain) will continue it scientific operations up to the end of 2018. I am attaching the press release.

On December 2nd 2010, the German Max Planck Society (MPG) and Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have signed an agreement in order to operate the Calar Alto Observatory at the German-Spanish Astronomical Centre during the period 2014-2018. The German-Spanish Astronomical Centre (CAHA) is a joint venture of the German MPG and the Spanish CSIC. Both partners renew their commitment with the German-Spanish Astronomical Centre (CAHA), to mantain the observatory at the forefront of scientific research in the coming years.

The new agreement poses special focus on the development and scientific exploitation of the new CARMENES spectrograph for the 3.5 m telescope. CARMENES (Calar Alto High-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs) is presently being designed and will be capable of detecting habitable planets similar to Earth around the smallest and coolest stars of the solar neighbourhood in our Galaxy. A minimum of six hundred telescope nights are granted for this search during the five year period.

The German-Spanish Astronomical Centre was born in 1973 through an international agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Spain. The institution operates the most outstanding astronomical observatory placed on continental Europe, whose facilities have played a key role in the development of astronomy in Spain during the last decades. The funding and operation of the Observatory were performed by the Max Planck Society, through its Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (Heidelberg) until the end of 2003. Since 2004, the Calar Alto Observatory is operated jointly by the two partners MPG and CSIC (through its Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia, at Granada). CAHA Director, D. Barrado, states: “The new agreement, signed in 2010, guarantees the future of the Calar Alto Observatory, which will keep its position as a central piece of Spanish and German astronomy for many more years.”

Quiescent volcanic activity on Io in November 2010

On the first half-nights of November 29 and 30 UT, telescope time with the W.M. Keck II telescope and its Adaptive Optics (AO) was granted to us. The goal of this observation program was to search and study multiple asteroids. Since Jupiter was close to its opposition and observable at the beginning of the night, we spent a short amount of time to observe Io, innermost Galilean satellite of Jupiter, well-known for its exotic and spectacular volcanism.