The Director of the Astrophysics Research Institute, Professor Mike Bode, was one of the guests at the inauguration of the Thai National Telescope (TNT) atop the highest mountain in Thailand on 22 January.
The TNT is one of the largest optical telescopes in Asia and is central to the development of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) based in nearby Chiang Mai.
The inauguration itself was conducted by HRH The Thai Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Guests at the formal ceremony in the afternoon included Thai government officials, several foreign ambassadors, including that of the UK, staff of NARIT and members of the NARIT International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC) that Professor Bode chairs.
In the evening, the Princess returned to the observatory for an informal observing session, including observations with the new telescope, and members of ISAC were presented to her.
Professor Bode commented:
"It was a great honour to be present at the inauguration of the telescope, which coincided with the first meeting of ISAC in the NARIT headquarters in Chiang Mai. Thailand is rapidly developing its astronomical capability as part of a general push to improve its scientific and technological base. Both their achievements to-date and ambitions for the future are quite astonishing. The Princess is very knowledgeable on the subject and is obviously a great supporter of astronomy and NARIT in particular."
LJMU has had strong links with the Institute for several years and the ARI has an agreement of mutual cooperation in place. This has led to the ARI hosting Thai research students and materials from the National Schools' Observatory being used in Thai schools.
Professor Bode continued "With the advent of the TNT, and other initiatives taking place in Thailand, we now look to develop our links in astronomical research and outreach even further in the future."
Pictured: Professor Bode with the Thai Crown Princess. Also pictured left to right are Dr Peter Thomasson (Jodrell Bank), Professor Norio Kaifu (President of the International Astronomical Union, and former Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) and Professor Albert Zijlstra (Director Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics)