Latest updates for the ORP Consortium

Dear colleagues,

Once again, we've had a lot of enjoyment preparing this new Newsletter. You'll find important information in it, but we'd like to emphasise some important points.

Firstly, following informal discussions during the coffee breaks at the last Consortium meeting (as these moments are always important), we have decided to organise an ORP Science Talk on a monthly basis. The organisation is described later in this Newsletter, but this is an initiative that aims to provide a convivial get-together between us, while promoting our activities. It will be an opportunity to exchange ideas and to have more active relations between us. We really hope to see many of you there.

Next, René Vermeulen announced his intention to retire at the end of February 2024. We naturally respect his decision, even though we shall miss him enormously. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him again for his commitment and constant support to ORP. It has been a real privilege to work with René, and an enormous pleasure because he combines uncommon professional and human qualities. 

A new LOFAR representative, Wim van Cappellen, has just been appointed, and the process of replacing René at Exec has begun. We are very pleased to welcome Win to ORP and look forward to working with him.

Wishing you all a very pleasant reading of this Newsletter,

Stéphane Basa, on behalf of the EMT

Multi-facility call for ORP facilities

Please feel free to pass this information on to anyone who might be interested.

We are pleased to announce to you the launch of the new ORP Multi-Facility call for proposals!

This call for proposals is aimed at observing programmes that require multiple astronomical observing facilities to deliver unique scientific programmes.

It is an opportunity to request observing time on multiple facilities through a single scientific proposal and evaluation process. Access is provided to more than eighteen individual facilities.

Deadline for submission: 9 April 2024 - at 14:00 UTC/ 15:00 BST/16:00 CEST

  • There are no constraints on the scientific areas that can be proposed.

  • Observation programmes must involve at least two ORP facilities.

  • Requests for non-simultaneous (non-time-critical) or time-critical/sensitive observations (e.g. contemporary or with the requested cadence) will be considered.

For more information about the call and how to submit a proposal, please click here Contact ‘’ for any advice, technical or scientific questions.

Executive Committee - Vice Chair election

René Vermeulen (ILT representative and vice-chairman of the Executive) retired on 1st March 2024. Wim van Cappellen, senior engineer at ASTRON, will take over his duties on an interim basis, notably as a voting member for the ILT, then for LOFAR ERIC, on the Executive Committee and on the Board of the ORP.

René has been serving as the Vice-Chair of the Exec, thus a new election among the Exec members is needed. Although not explicitly stated in the consortium agreement, the vice-chair is expected to have a background in radio astronomy, given the optical background of the chair.

On 4 March, the following candidate stood for the position of Executive Vice-Chair: Agnieszka Slowikowska.

Simultaneously, Aga has agreed to step down from her role as the Board vice-chair as soon as she is appointed the Exec vice-chair. Consequently, the Board Vice-chair position will also require an official vote and the nomination of a new candidate. Karl Schuster has kindly agreed to serve in this position and has been officially nominated.

An online election to elect the vice-chair of the exec is currently underway and the result will be known by Tuesday 26 March.

The next step will be to elect the new Vice-Chair of the Board.

CPS Urges Action on Satellite Constellations In First Recommendations Paper

The IAU Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS), has released a paper entitled that states its recommendations for the mitigation of satellite constellations’ impact on astronomy. The document is the culmination of 18 months’ work by a multidisciplinary group of experts, including astronomers, industry representatives and policy advisors, led by Gyula I. G. Józsa of MPIfR, co-coordinator of the Opticon RadioNet Pilot (ORP) Sky Protection Group, and with contributions from several other members of the ORP. It represents the view of the IAU Centre on what steps should now be taken to address the issue (CPS Release, March 14, 2024).

For more information :

NEON School inspires students in observational astrophysics

2023 NEON Observing School took place at Astrophysical Observatory of Asiago in Northern Italy on 4-16 February 2024. In total 16 students from nine countries learned hands-on observing with professional telescopes. The school covered all the steps from planning observations to also analysing the data, with the main emphasis being on hands-on observing and data reduction.

The students worked with four experienced tutors who lead science projects in various topics in extra galactic and galactic astronomy, and transient astrophysics. The school also included lecturers on different observing techniques and other topics like proposal writing and careers in science. We also had a session on equity, diversity, and inclusion that was very much liked by the students. 

We had a great 12 days in Asiago with a very friendly atmosphere and the questionnaires filled by the students after the school were again extremely positive.

Current ORP TNA Opportunities Open

ORP Transnational Access opportunities presently open:

2nd Reporting Period

The second reporting period ended on August 31, 2023, and the report was submitted by EMT on 2 November 2023. 

Further information was requested by the EC on 30th November, and provided by the EMT in January 2024. The report is currently being evaluated and we expect to receive details of the second interim payment shortly.
Results of the survey on the Consortium Meeting held in Garching, Nov. 2023

Participants of the Consortium Meeting were asked to provide feedback filing in this questionnaire

Overall, the participants were very satisfied with the event ! The two advisory comments were that the agenda could have been better optimised (less redundancy). Some would also have liked a longer session to allow more general discussion on topics not specific to ORP (e.g. development plans for individual facilities, common challenges).

We'll be taking good note of your comments for the next Consortium meeting. Thank you all for your participation!

ORP science talk

The EMT is launching an ‘ORP science talk’ that will take place once a month on zoom, to give the community (ORP and hopefully beyond) the opportunity to present their work and scientific results. 

Each meeting will last approximately 1 hour and will be structured as follows:

  • 10 min: sharing of general information from participants (information on upcoming schools, the next call for proposals, etc.).
  • 40 min: scientific presentations based on ORP results (two presentations per session).
  • 10 min: questions & AOB

This animation is open to everyone’s participation (internal & external ORP). So, if you have any ideas for presentations, please don't hesitate to contact us.

The first session will take place on 3 April at 11 am CET. You are welcome to join ! 

Please pass this information on to anyone who might be interested in sharing their scientific work at this virtual meeting. We're looking for volunteers !😉

Contact for more information.

ORP Activities

During the period 15 December 2023 - 15 March 2024 the following activities have been organised:

Radio TA/VA leaders: The group met on 31 January 2024 and provided an update on the status of the partner infrastructures, confirming that everything is on track. Pietro Bolli attended the meeting as a guest and reported on the ORP sky protection group's efforts to gather information on existing RFI mitigation techniques at the ORP infrastructures. This information will be used for D3.8: Report on existing mitigation techniques (due 30 June 2024), with input from the ORP radio TA/VA partners. Pietro will also collect input from the optical infrastructures. R. Beswick reported that the Multi-facility call (JA2) was progressing well and requested specific information on the number of hours that the participating infrastructures would make available for the further development of the call.

JA2.2 Seamless Performance - Time-Domain Multi-Facility & Multi-Frequency Access to Research Infrastructures: The group met at the monthly meeting on 29 February 2024. Work in the last month-and-a-half was mostly focused around the multi-facility Call for Proposals. More than eighteen ORP-PILOT facilities have donated observing time to this special CfP to improve and assess multi-facility / multi-wavelength proposals, with the explicit goal to use the feedback and results from this CfP to potentially influence / influence potential future access modalities. Time was spent on drafting the CfP text, setting up the common time allocation structure and establishing a dedicated multi-facility proposal submission tool for the CfP.

JA4 Training: The group met on 27 February 2024 and reviewed the planned activities. All training events are on track. Budget re-allocations have been finalised. The full budget will be used. In 2024, many schools will take place; the next are the 7th LOFAR School, the e-MERLIN data School and the European ALMA School (see section Upcoming ORP-related Activities & Events). The group gathered ideas for the face-to-face meeting in Berlin (4 April 2024) and decided to focus on the lessons learned from past training events to design future ones.
Upcoming ORP-related Activities & Events

For the next coming schools/training, please circulate to all those who may be interested

15-19 April 2024 – Dwingeloo/NL – 7th LOFAR Data School

13-15 May 2024  – Manchester/UK  –  e-MERLIN data school

10-14 June 2024 – Manchester/UK – European ALMA School

24-28 June 2024 - Garching/DE - The promises and challenges of the ALMA wideband sensitivity upgrade

10-14 September 2024 – Manchester/UK – ALMA School for ALMA users

30 September - 04 October 2024 – Granada/ES - ERIS 2024

Subscribe to the ORP External Newsletter

The external ORP newsletter  is aimed at the international astronomical community to publicise the framework and activities of the project, and in particular draw attention to the benefits of bringing together the optical and radio astronomical ground-based communities. Subscription for the newsletter is available here

Please help us spread the update to reach out to as many people as possible!

The ORP project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004719 ​

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