Building on the present for the future

News Alert...


We have now received the fully signed OPTICON FP7 Grant Agreement. All FP7 work and contracts may now be started. The signature initiates the payment process, so we hope the pre-financing payment will arrive in the summer. Good luck!

ESO Press Release on World's fastest and most sensitive astronomical camera:

Please find the link to the Press Release on the ESO website here.

EU Public Service Review:

Click here to download the EU Profile on Optical Astronomy for Europe

Completion of OPTICON FP6 and news of FP7...

OPTICON FP6 contract ended on 31 December 2008. During the 5 year programme there were many sucessful activities and events. Very considerable progress was made in developing the European leadership of the next major optical-infrared infrastructure, the European Extremely Large Telescope. Highlights included completion and delivery of the two printed books presenting the `Science Case for an Extremely Large Telescope', a detailed study of future requirements for UV astronomy missions, a technology roadmap for future facitiies and progress with new instrument concepts and software for interferometry. Hundreds of astronomers benefited from the OPTICON trans-national access programme which gave new users opportunities to observe with 4 solar and 18 nighttime 2-4m telescopes. Considerable progress was made in technology programmes for adaptive optics, fast detectors, interferometry tools, smart focal plane technologies and VPH gratings for use in astronomical instruments. You can read a detailed final report here (LINK -to be updated shortly)

Building on the sucess of the FP6 programme European Commission has awarded a grant of 10 million Euro to OPTICON for FP7. The new consortium is smaller, to reduce overheads and thus increase the amount of astronomy related work that can be done, but its objectives are the same. Between 2009 and 2012 OPTICON will reach out to a wide commnity of European astronomers with a further trans-national access programme to medium sized telescopes, several networking opportunities for ELT science, interferometry, technology studies and exanding opportunities for cross border collaboration. New R and D challenges will be taken by multi-national teams who will continue to develop underpinning technology for adaptive optics, detectors and instruments. A new FP7 website setting ut this new programme will be launched soon from this URL.


OPTICON FP6 was funded by the European commission as part of its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) . OPTICON FP6 activities form ed part of the EC's strategy to structure the European Research Area by bringing together 47 European groups (http://www.astro-opticon.org/partners.html) with common objectives and interests.

A key objective was to structure the European community around plans for a future European Extremely Large Telescope.You can download our FP6 glossy executive summary as a PDF file by clicking on the logo (printed copies are also available in 29cm x 29cm format) -->

OPTICON FP6 received a contract for 19.2 million Euros from the EU, plus substantial matching funds, for a 5 year programme starting 1 January 2004 and ending in January 2009. This programme had three inter-related elements, Networking, Trans-national access to existing telescopes and Joint Research Activities in Research and Technology.

A summary of all our activities was presented to the EC in September 2007. Click here to see these Mid Term Review presentations.

  • Networking
  • OPTICON FP6 networking activity involved a number of working groups which met regularly to discuss issues of common interest.

  • Transnational Access Programme
  • The OPTICON FP6 Transnational Access Programme assisted new users to gain access to existing European Telescopes by providing improved proposal opportunities and financial support for some successful proposals.


  • Joint Research Activities
  • The OPTICON FP6 six Joint Research Activities carried out the Research and Development activities required to upgrade existing European telescopes and make possible the next generation of new facilities.


    You can download an illustrated document summarising the whole of the OPTICON FP6 programme by clicking on the telescope montage image on the right:-


OPTICON is a member of I3Net (http://i3.neutron-eu.net/) and a complete list of EC sponsored infrastructure actions has been complied by them and can be found here: http://i3.neutron-eu.net/i3_links.

The ASTRONET FP6 consortium was set up to establish a comprehensive long-term plan for the development of European astronomy.. More information can be found at their website http://www.astronet-eu.org/.

OPTICON maintains close links with the I3 for Radio Astronomy, RadioNet. If you would like to find out more, please click on the logo below:

RadioNet logo

You may also be interested in the Astroparticle I3, ILIAS. Click on the logo to go to their website:

Details of other FP6 funded Astronomy and Astrophysics projects are here