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Paper: The Future of Astrometric Education
Volume: 338, Astrometry in the Age of the Next Generation of Large Telescopes
Page: 311
Authors: van Altena, W.; Stavinschi, M.
Abstract: Astrometry is poised to enter an era of unparalleled growth and relevance due to the wealth of highly accurate data expected from the SIM and GAIA space missions. Innovative ground-based telescopes, such as the LSST, are planned which will provide less precise data, but for many more stars. The potential for studies of the structure, kinematics and dynamics of our Galaxy as well as for the physical nature of stars and the cosmological distance scale is without equal in the history of astronomy. It is therefore ironic that in two years not one course in astrometry will be taught in the US, leaving all astrometric education to Europe, China and Latin America. Who will ensure the astrometric quality control for the JWT, SIM, GAIA, LSST, to say nothing about the current large ground-based facilities, such as the VLT, Gemini, Keck, NOAO, Magellan, LBT, etc.? Hipparcos and the HST were astrometric successes due only to the dedicated work of specialists in astrometry who fought to maintain the astrometric characteristics of those satellites and their data pipelines.

We propose a renewal of astrometric education in the universities to prepare qualified scientists so that the scientific returns from the investment of billions of dollars in these unique facilities will be maximized. The funding agencies are providing outstanding facilities. The universities, national and international observatories and agencies should acknowledge their responsibility to hire qualified full-time astrometric scientists to teach students, and to supervise existing and planned astronomical facilities so that quality data will be obtained and analyzed.

A temporary solution to this problem is proposed in the form of a series of international summer schools in Astrometry. The Michelson Science Center of the SIM project has offered to hold an astrometry summer school in 2005 to begin this process. A one-semester syllabus is suggested as a means of meeting the needs of Astronomy by educating students in astrometric techniques that might be most valuable for careers associated with modern astrophysics.

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