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February 5, 2023


All about GTC

Once upon a time...

The father of the GTC

The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC)

The GTC project grew out of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) when the organization declared that such an instrument was needed to ensure continuous progress in the field of astrophysics. Officially launched in 1985, the IAC had already long been active in the development of astronomy and astrophysics. In 1979, a milestone year, the Agreements on Cooperation in Astrophysics were signed, opening up IAC observatories to international participation.

Today, because of the Agreements, over 62 scientific bodies from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Armenia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States have astrophysical instruments in the Canaries. The Canaries are in fact the European Northern Observatory (ENO), one of the planet’s top three ‘paradises’ of astronomy.

1982 brought legislation giving legal status to the IAC as a ‘Public Consortium’ with, amongst its other duties, ‘responsibility for the functions, rights and obligations deriving from the “Agreements on Cooperation in Astrophysics.” Three years on and the inauguration ceremonies of the IAC, Observatorio Internacional del Teide (Tenerife) and Observatorio Internacional del Roque de Los Muchachos (La Palma) were taking place. Presiding over the celebrations were the Spanish Royal Family, the Kings and Queens of Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands, the German and Irish Presidents and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (representing the Queen of England). Ministers and dignitaries from all over Europe were there, as were distinguished members of the international astronomical community with five Nobel Prize laureates at their head.

The IAC is also engaged in other areas of work, such as technological development, making new discoveries with applications for industries such as medical instrumentation and telecommunications; education, with graduate and post-doctorate training of astronomy students and researchers; and cultural projects, like the Science and Cosmos Museum, to stimulate young people’s interest in the mysteries of the stars. The IAC also produces a range of publications and has a website giving information about what it offers and how it works.

Currently involved in the IAC are the Spanish Government (Ministry of of Science and Innovation), the Canarian Regional Government, the University of La Laguna and the CSIC, Spain's Science Research Council.