Observing courses

During the semester we had the annual observing course for the Stockholm University (5 nights in May), which this year was held remotely. We were especially involved in the preparations and execution of the Nordic-Baltic Research Training Course ``Observational cosmology and the formation and evolution of galaxies'' that took place at Onsala, Sweden, in the period 11-20 June, 2012. The course was organised jointly by the Onsala Space Observatory (OSO, Sweden), the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT, Spain), the Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA, Finland), and the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics (University of Oslo, Norway). As during the previous joint training courses, the NOT was used in remote mode (5 half nights in June). See for details about the course

http://www.not.iac.es/Onsala2012/ .
There was also the NordForsk ``Observational Stellar Astrophysics in the Era of Gaia and Kepler Space Missions'' held at Mol├ętai Observatory in Lithuania in the period 28 July-11 August, 2012, which used the NOT in remote mode (5 nights at the end of July and the start of August), and we had the regular on-site master school in CUO/NBI guaranteed time (3 nights in August).

As part of the support to the various observing courses, some small upgrades were made to the remote observing system and the instruction pages. It was also noted that there were a number of returning issues (e.g., problems with external access to the EON report form) that occur every time there is a new remote observing run. A checklist with the steps to be taken by the local technical support to ensure that everything is tested before a remote observing session starts has been prepared.

There is a Finnish initiative called the ``NOT Science School'' which aims at having selected secondary school kids come to La Palma and participate in observations with the NOT. The development of the program is being funded by the Finnish technology and National Board of Education. In the current semester there are 2 half nights in which separate groups of pupils will come to the telescope accompanied by some teachers.

Thomas Augusteijn 2013-05-10