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For ORP Joint Actions 1.5 Preserving the Sky and 2.5 Preserving the Skies for Future Generations the beginning of 2023 stood in the light of restructuring the sky protection effort of the ORP. 

To unlock untapped potential within the European and international community, it was decided to open membership in a newly created ORP Sky Protection Group, comprising all members of Joint Actions 1.5 and 2.5, as well as any external interested people who want to contribute to a coordinated effort within Europe to minimise the negative impact of electromagnetic interference (EMI) on astronomy, both radio-interference and light pollution and of terrestrial origin or from space. 

To organise the new effort, ad-hoc working groups were built, aligned with our strategic plan. The single groups are meant to work independently to develop and pursue their own work plan, while their chairpersons meet once per month as the management team. Luckily, we were able to find very suited chairpersons for our groups, bar one:

  • Outreach and Education - Gyula I. G. Józsa (MPIfR)
  • Drafting - Gyula I. G. Józsa (MPIfR)
  • (Astronomy) Liaison - Andreas Hänel (VdS)
  • Public affairs and government relations - Andrew P. Williams (ESO)
  • Mitigation software - tbd.
  • Mitigation hardware - Pietro Bolli (INAF)
  • EMI monitoring - Ioannis Antoniadis

We issued a call to participate in the ORP Sky Protection Group, coupled with an informational online-meeting, which was repeated three times. As a result we are now counting 61 international members in the ORP Sky Protection Group, 25 of which are new. After solving a lot of organisational questions, including formal collaboration agreements, calendars, project management, communication tools, etc. The new working groups are expected to pick up and continue with their tasks after Easter 2023. We had a first work meeting, held on 15 March 2023, in the course of the Joint Action 2 face-to-face meeting.

Meanwhile, members of the ORP Sky Protection Group have been active in the IAU Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS) and the Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies. This year, the International Telecommunication Union will hold the World Radiocommunication Conference, in which the Radio Regulations, the international treaty to regulate spectrum usage worldwide, will be updated, which is of highest importance to radio astronomy as a spectrum user. Hence our members engaged in radio astronomy protection have been very busy to check and propose updated regulations in the light of their impact on radio astronomy. The "Conference Preparatory Meeting", nearly equally important, starts on 27 March 2023. An example of our activities in the CPS is the completion of a position paper for astronomers with respect to large satellite constellations. Finally, members of the ORP Sky Protection Group are participating in national preparation meetings towards laws addressing light pollution.

We are looking forward to the activities of the ad-hoc working groups.

Any interested person can sign up for participation in the ORP Sky Protection Group, do not hesitate to spread the good news or to sign up yourself.