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On Monday 28 June 2021, the Special Session "European Forum of Astronomical Communities" will include several presentations about the ORP Project. The session is organised as part of the European Astronomical Society 2021 (EAS 2021) Annual Meeting, the largest conference of European astronomy, held virtually from 28 June to 2 July 2021.

The European Forum of Astronomical Communities is a platform of the EAS to discuss the development of underrepresented astronomy communities in Europe; Support the professionalisation of astronomy communities in Europe; present current research, industrial and educational networking activities in the field of astronomy available in Europe; and explore how the European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD) can support connecting European astronomy institutes to stimulate capacity building. The forum launched during the EAS Meeting in 2017 in Prague and has been held every year since then.

The ORP Project participation will comprise the following 5 presentations:

SS9a: European Forum of Astronomical Communities | 28 June 09:00 - 10:30 CEST

09:25 - 09:37 CEST - ORP - Opticon RadioNet Pilot | Agnieszka Słowikowska - Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

For more than two decades, the EU has been supporting free transnational access (TA) to existing national research infrastructures (RI). In particular, the optical/infrared and the advanced radio astronomy communities are now recognised as TA flagship communities. Their telescopes and instrumentation complement each other with respect to wavelength coverage, as well as spectral, spatial and time resolution, and therefore together form a cohesive suite of RIs that made ground breaking discoveries possible and thus strengthened Europe's leading role in international science. While scientists more and more rely on multi-wavelength and multi-disciplinary access to the best RIs, there is a quest by the RI providers for a sustainable funding scheme for TA, since establishing and maintaining outstanding RIs requires considerable resources. In this pilot, the best research institutions from both communities will combine their efforts to further improve and harmonize their services and to make best use of their RIs, allowing mutual and TA to telescopes, telescope networks, and data archives. This will facilitate multi-wavelengths and time-domain studies. TA shall be simplified by the development of a common proposal submission tool. Improved instruments, adaptive optics, and software to deliver science ready data products will boost the performance of our RIs. This pilot will address imminent threats to astronomical research from satellite mega constellations and commercial radio emitters, and finally, it will develop plans for a long-term mutual relationship and for a continued funding of TA beyond this pilot.

09:37 - 09:50 CEST - Optical astronomy research opportunities in the Opticon RadioNet Pilot | Gerry Gilmore -  Cambridge Astronomy, United Kingdom

After 20 years of productive activity the OPTICON network ends on 30 June 2021. Many of its activities however continue in the new ORP EC-funded OPTICON-RadioNet Pilot, while some activities are considerably expanded. This includes continuing and new forms of access to large numbers of optical/IR telescopes, support for extensive time-domain astronomy programmes, support for VLTI-based research and training on the new-generation instruments, adaptive optics research access, and plans to develop and implement multi-wavelength single-application large projects.

09:50 - 10:02 CEST - Joint Action to harmonise astronomical facility access within the Opticon RadioNet Pilot programme | Rob Beswick - Jodrell Bank Centre For Astrophysics, United Kingdom

Within the Horizon 2020 EU-funded Opticon RadioNet Pilot (ORP) programme a key goal is to provide improved and harmonised access for users to services and facilities across the wide range of world-class optical, infrared, millimetre and radio facilities within the ORP. In this presentation I will describe the plans and actions being undertaken to enhance these services and provisions by applying common harmonization principles to benefit both the users and the providers of access to European RIs within the ORP. These including opening up new access routes for science users to allow seamlessly access multiple facilities, enhanced and harmonious proposal submission applications and enhancements of user access to data archives across multiple facilities, and multi-wavelength shared-expertise to enhance user support provisions.

10:02 - 10:15 CEST - Optical and infra-red astronomy training in ORP | Heidi Korhonen - ESO, Chile

The educational component of the EU Funded Opticon RadioNet Pilot (ORP) is organised through its Training work package. This work package runs a community training programme which delivers expert knowledge in infrastructure use and development for both sub-mm/radio and optical/infra-red wavebands. In this talk I will present the training programme for optical and infra-red astronomy. The main activity is the yearly NEON Observing school that gives hands-on observing experience to young astronomers at a professional telescope. Additionally, we organise other schools concentrating on different aspects of observational astronomy, for example on astronomical instrumentation and proposal writing. Some of the schools are also synergy schools organised together with the sub-mm/radio part of ORP. Here, I will give an overview of the planned activities for the next four years at the optical/infra-red wavebands.

10:15 - 10:23 CEST - Global network of small telescopes for time-domain science | Lukasz Wyrzykowski, Paweł Zieliński, Krzysztof Rybicki, Maja Jabłońska - Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory, Poland

A network of small and mid-sized telescopes scattered around the world is coordinated by the Opticon RadioNet Pilot (ORP) grant of the European Commission in order to facilitate time-domain scientific data to be collected.

Time-domain targets, for example, supernovae, FU Ori type stars, microlensing events, are being observed by a set of heterogenous instrument and the data is being automatically processed and calibrated to homogenise the outcome.

Any telescope can join our network and contribute to the observations. We provide technical support to data processing, training and we coordinate the observations. Currently, the network provides photometric measurements only, but an extension to spectroscopy is planned as well as to the radio. Our system is based on Las Cumbres Observatory's TOM open-source software and is available here: 

For more details on the session, please visit the EAS 2021 interactive programme.

European Astronomical Society 2021 Meeting

The European Astronomical Society (EAS) Annual Meeting has more than 25 years of tradition and it has imposed itself as the largest conference for European astronomy. In addition to plenary sessions and the award of prestigious prizes, the conference hosts many symposia held in parallel, as well as special sessions and meetings. 

After the shift to an EAS 2020 virtual meeting, EAS 2021 should have been held physically in Leiden, The Netherlands. Due to the uncertain COVID-19 situation in Europe and the world, the meeting was (again) moved to a virtual meeting, resulting in the registration of over 2000 participants so far.

More information about the EAS 2021 Conference can be found here.