Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics


Research School

The Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics was created by Council in August, replacing the entity Mount Stromlo & Siding Spring Observatories. This is not the first renaming of the research organisation on Mount Stromlo, known over the years as the Commonwealth Solar Observatory, Mount Stromlo Observatory, the Department of Astronomy of RSPhysS., the Observatory Services Unit, and MSSSO. Recalling only its ANU history, it is the fourth Research School to have emerged from Physical Sciences; the others have been RSC, RSES, and RSISE, good company indeed for the new School.

In two previous years we reported formally in these pages against the Observatories' adopted Strategic Plan. With Australian membership of Gemini now a reality, the landscape has changed, and this largely successful plan needs some revision. This will be undertaken in the coming year and duly reported then. An Instrument Committee retreat in June prepared the way for the plan revision.

Research Advisory Board

The Research Advisory Board met again in October and also focussed on forward planning. The Board heard and discussed proposals for the Institute of Advanced Studies' Performance & Planning Fund. It enthusiastically endorsed preparation of a proposal for an instrumentation program for the new generation telescopes. There was continuing concern about adequate financial support for the de facto national facility we operate at Siding Spring Observatory.

Sources of Revenue
Sources of revenue $k 1997 1998
IAS block grant 5431 5276
External funds 987 676
Ancillary activities 820 796

National Facilities

Number of Nights Allocated for External or Collaborative Use on MSSSO Telescopes During 1998

2.3m 74" 40" 24"
Overseas users 20 69 97 25 138 37 10 -
UNS universities 56 19 42 47 83 21
AAO/CSIRO 17 - - 10
Other 17 - 88 -
Total nights external /collab. use 181 221 296 98

The first entry of each pair is the number of nights allocated entirely for external use; the second is the number of nights allocated for collaborative projects involving MSSSO and external researchers. AAO = Anglo-Australian Observatory. The 24" is scheduled less regularly than the larger telescopes.

Annual Report 1998

Postdoctoral Movements

Brad Gibson left for the University of Colorado. New arrivals were Maartje Sevenster, Robert Smith and Griet Van de Steene. Two males and one female joined the academic staff in 1998 and two males left.