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SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation - 'the forum for astronomers'- will run in Marseille in June

BELLINGHAM, WA, USA - 30 May 2008 - The international SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation symposium in Marseille, France, 23-28 June will be the largest ever of its type, with approximately 2,000 papers covering all areas of the subject. The symposium is organized into 12 parallel conferences plus plenary sessions, and sponsored by SPIE and SPIE Europe, the European-based extension of SPIE.

"Astronomical Instrumentation will provide 'the' forum for astronomers, engineers, science administrators, and others to get together to discuss essentially all major astronomical projects," said Alan Moorwood of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Moorwood and Mark Clampin of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center are symposium chairs.

"This meeting is always a major event in the calendar of astronomical meetings," Clampin said. The focus this year is on the synergies between ground- and space-based programs. At this time, several very large ground-based telescopes are moving from the drawing board to reality, as are a number of very large and very interesting space programs, he noted. Hear a brief interview with Clampin on the SPIE Newsroom, at spie.org/documents/Newsroom/audio/Clampin.wav.

John Mather of NASA Goddard, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics, echoed comments about the event. "This astronomy symposium is the world's premier meeting for scientists and engineers to talk about their plans and accomplishments," he said. Mather will give a plenary presentation on "From the Big Bang to the Nobel Prize and on to James Webb Space Telescope." Hear a brief interview with Mather on the SPIE Newsroom, at spie.org/documents/Newsroom/audio/Mather.wav.

The symposium will explore astronomical, engineering, and project management synergies. "This is becoming increasingly relevant now that some of the next generation of large facilities being proposed on the ground are expected to need budgets previously associated only with space projects," Moorwood said.

Plenary speaker Tim de Zeeuw, Director General of ESO, will discuss how this dynamic has recently led to a much closer collaboration between the scientific community and national funding agencies within Europe to develop a long-range plan including both ground and space facilities.

Fabio Favata of the European Space Agency will give a plenary report on Europe's current and future plans for astronomical telescopes and instruments from space.

Other plenary presenters are:

  • Simon White, Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik, on "Introduction to the standard cosmological model"
  • David Spergel, Princeton University, on "Exploring the cosmic background radiation with WMAP"
  • Daniel Eisenstein, The University of Arizona, Steward Observatory, on "Acoustic oscillations in the Universe"
  • Pierre Astier, Université Paris, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, on "Supernova cosmology and dark energy"
  • Piero Madau, Lick Observatory, University of California, on "Probing the epoch of reionization"
  • Masanori Iye, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, on "High redshift galaxy surveys"
  • Rosemary Wyse, Johns Hopkins University, on "Galaxy archeology: near-field cosmology"
  • Malcolm Longair, University of Cambridge, on "Cosmology with future ground and space observatories."

Consortia will report on the results of existing telescopes in Europe, Chile, South Africa, Antarctica, USA, Japan, China, Australia, and Russia. Seven supporting professional education courses will be offered, on optics and optomechanics for astronomy, sensors and detectors, and telescopes and systems. Conference proceedings papers will be published online in the SPIE Digital Library beginning immediately as approved after the meeting. For more information on the SPIE Digital Library, visit spiedl.org/.

An exhibition of more than 65 companies from 14 countries in Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia will showcase the latest in space telescope systems, interferometry, ground-based telescopes, adaptive optics, space- and ground-based facilities, and specialized instrumentation and technology advancements. Among exhibitors are:

  • ESO, with a new design for an extremely large optical/infrared telescope (ELT) which will provide the first ever images of Earth-like planets around other stars.
  • The Australian Centre for Precision Optics, CSIR0, with a new precision sphere product made for an international project aimed at redefining the kilogram.
  • POPsud (Pôle Optique et Photonique sud), the Marseille-area optics and photonics cluster known for expertise in astronomy and space technologies, with a pavilion including several leading companies.

Networking opportunities will include a banquet featuring speaker Matt Mountain, Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, a welcome reception, and tours of local points of interest including:

  • Observatoire de Haute-Provence
  • Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) and Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence (OAMP)
  • SESO, an optics company based in Aix-en-Provence.

For more information see the SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation 2008 website, spie.org/x13662.xml.

About SPIE
SPIE is an international optics and photonics society founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving the interests of its more than 188,000 active constituents representing 138 different countries, SPIE acts as a catalyst for collaboration among technical disciplines for information exchange, continuing education, publishing opportunities, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. As the organizer and sponsor of approximately 25 major conferences and education programs annually in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, SPIE provides publishing, speaking, and learning opportunities on emerging technologies. For more information, visit SPIE.org.

About SPIE Europe
SPIE Europe, headquartered in Cardiff, UK, is a European-based extension of SPIE, an international educational not-for-profit professional society founded in 1955 advancing light-based technologies. SPIE Europe annually presents several symposia comprising conferences, exhibitions, courses and workshops as well as other membership, educational and industry forums throughout Europe. These activities serve to catalyze collaboration among technical disciplines and promote the advancement of science, information exchange, continuing education, publishing opportunities, patent precedent and career and professional growth. In addition to organizing and sponsoring technical conferences around the world, SPIE publishes journals, books and proceedings, with technical papers available for download via the SPIE Digital Library. For more information about SPIE Europe and SPIE, visit SPIE.org.