OmegaCAM's First Surveys


June 30 July 4, 2003



OmegaCAM is an astronomical wide-field camera which will come into operation on ESO's VLT Survey Telescope (VST) towards the end of 2004. It is built as a collaboration of NOVA with German and Italian partners, as well as ESO itself.


The aim of this workshop was to bring together those groups that will have guaranteed access to observing time with this instrument, in order to discuss the scientific programmes being considered in these different communities, and to try to distill a coherent, coordinated Guaranteed Time Programme for the first few years of operation. Similar meetings had been held in Germany and Italy, but this meeting purposely was not restricted to the Dutch (NOVA) community only. Some 25 astronomers from Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and the UK participated.


Three days of stimulating discussions and presentations of proposed projects at the Lorentz Center resulted in a commitment to a coordinated approach across the different communities, with small groups identified who will work out and sharpen the science cases. It was particularly useful to see that there was quite some overlap between the ideas that had emerged, but that the focus was in many cases significantly different. The meeting was therefore very fruitful. This was greatly helped by the fact that topics covered a very broad range of astrophysics and cosmology: to name a few, exciting scientific programmes on studying the evolution of galaxies, on identifying white dwarfs in the Galaxy, searching for hot gaseous haloes at very high redshift, measuring the mass distribution in the universe through gravitational lensing, studying the stellar content of the satellites of our own Galaxy, and investigating the properties of galaxies in nearby superclusters, were presented.


Participants in several 'rival' projects, both current and planned, were also invited, and helped set the context in which the OmegaCAM scientific surveys will be carried out.


There was some overlap between the participants of this meeting and the ASTRO-WISE meeting held at the Lorentz center in 2002; the latter project has gelled into a very strong backbone around which collaborative surveys can be organized.


K.H. Kuijken (Leiden University, The Netherlands)