ASTROCLIMATOLOGY OF MAIDANAK, UZBEKISTAN
Longitude: 66° 53´ 50 East Latitude: 38° 40´ 30 North Height: 2600 metersA co-operation agreement between ESO, Nice University Dept. of Astrophysics, Moscow Sternberg Institute and the Ulugh Beg Astronomical Institute of the Uzbek Academy of Science will be funded by INTAS (International association for the promotion of co-operation with scientists from the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union (NIS)). The accepted proposal aims at the `Characterisation of Maidanak Observatory among the Major International Ground Based Astronomical Facilities of the Future' and covers the period 1998-1999 during which a number of site monitoring campaigns are planned and local instrumentation will be developed. Launched in 1983 in answer to the financial difficulties faced by many NIS scientists and in order to allow them to pursue their work, INTAS initiative is jointly financed by the EU and its Member States + Norway, Switzerland and Israel. Together with the 332 newly selected projects of the INTAS Call 1996 for 19 million ECU, more than 1,500 research projects covering natural and exact sciences as well as social sciences have already received INTAS support (source European Commission RTD Info Issue 16 and INTAS WEB page). Contacts between ESO and Uzbek astronomy were initiated in March 1996 in the frame of the ESPAS (ESO Search for Potential Astronomical Sites) Working Group. A probe survey started in August 1996 confirmed the excellent seeing quality of Maidanak Observatory (38°41' North, 66°54' East, 2600 m altitude) and prompted the joint funding request. Thanks to the INTAS grant, five young Uzbek scientists will receive financial support during the next two years.