The Future Operation of European Medium-Sized Telescopes: The Situation at Calar Alto Observatory
Various recent user inquiries show that a significant need exists to maintain medium-sized telescopes (2- to 4-m class) in the future, operating hand in hand with the 8- to 10-m telescopes. First, a large number of scientifically important programs are performed more adequately and more efficiently at the medium-sized telescopes. Examples are large field imaging and spectroscopy, studies on brighter objects, long term monitoring and survey programs and support of surveys at other wavelengths (X ray, radio), and accurate astrometry and photometry of reference objects and unknowns. Second, the growing complexity of instrumentation requires telescope time for instrument development and optimization that is more economically available at the medium sized telescopes. Third, astronomy as an international scientific venture that stimulates and inspires future technological enterprises requires a significantly increased share of telescope time for training and education. And fourth, nationally operated mediumsized telescopes will play an important role in integrating European astronomical research, by opening up the national programs to researchers throughout Europe.
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