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Background of Optical and Infrared Astronomy in ASIAA

Optical and infrared astronomy is one of the most important branches of astronomy. After the successful development of the radio astronomy in ASIAA, OIR astronomy is the next step for us. In 1999, National Taiwan University, National Central University, National Tsing-Hwa University and our institute proposed a joint project (The Cosmology and Particle Astronomy project) to Ministry of Education as a research initiative excellent project for astronomy of Taiwan. One of the goals of the project is to gain access of a world class optical infrared telescope facility to attract more observational astronomers. It also intends to participate in the development of frontier instrumentation in order to nurture Taiwan's technical capability for this field.

After the project started, the partner universities (Taiwan, Central and Tsing-Hua) and Academia Sinica formed a consortium to find the most suitable collaboration institute for the project. Several possible institutes were considered such as CFHT, Steward Observatory, IfA of UH, and UKIRT. After some site visiting and discussions, CFHT was selected as our collaborator. As the first 4-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, CFHT has the best site and thus the best seeing condition on the summit. With its advanced adaptive optics system, the image resolution in the near infrared band is even better than that of Hubble space telescope. CFHT also provides friendly user interface and excellent technical support to all the users. Because of these, it has been the most effective and productive 4-meter telescope for the past 21 years. However, in order to stay competitive in an era of the new 8-10m telescopes, CFHT is developing the unique wide field imaging capability. MegaCam and WIRCam are the two wide field cameras in visible and near infrared range developed now in CFHT. It is ideally suited for large survey projects such as the optical follow up of clusters of galaxies to be detected in mm-wave by AMiBA. In the agreement, we will have 68 observing nights and participant the development of the wide field infrared camera.

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