The IAC has long been aware of the importance of promoting the characterization of the Observatories. For this reason, the skyteam [at] iac.es (Sky Quality Team) was created.
Since 1990, site characterization studies have been carried out, funded by the IAC and co-funded by several external programs over the years. The Sky Team’s main objective is the continuous characterization and preservation of the outstanding astronomical conditions of the Canarian Observatories.
The specific tasks covered are very wide and the Team is very active on several fronts, for example in:
- Continuously monitoring the atmospheric parameters related to astronomical observations.
- Designing, developing or implementing new instruments for site characterization.
- Leading researches on Atmospheric Optics and on new techniques for site testing of giant telescopes.
- Participating or leading international site testing campaigns for future infrastructures.
- Publishing the results in specialized forums.
- Coordinating the institutional efforts to characterize and protect the sky, acting as interlocutor in formal agreements with agencies or institutions (AEMet, the International Scientific Committee, etc).
- Participating in international initiatives and advisory committees in the field.
- Extending the knowledge to the general public, with the aim of making them aware of the importance of the knowledge and protection of the sky.
The IAC SKY Team is also the Institutional link between the different departments to coordinate whatever efforts are directed towards the characterization and protection of the canarian sky for Astronomy. For example, the technical office for sky protection (OTPC), created in 1992, provides support and supervision in the implementation of laws for the protection of the night sky darkness.
We frequently participate and organize meetings, contributing with talks and reviews. Besides, numerous publications in specialized refereed journals are available, some of which have become a reference work in the site-testing field. Much of the data gathered has become available publicly after being calibrated.