The discovery of infrared light was reported exactly 200 years ago and is an event astronomers are eager to celebrate. The first space observatory able to see in the infrared, ESA’s ISO, has unveiled in the last few years a surprising face of the Universe that had remained mostly hidden so far, and that deserves an even deeper exploration. ESA is now preparing to dive yet deeper into the infrared with ISO’s successor, FIRST, whose main observing priorities will be discussed by over 200 astronomers from all over the world at a meeting in Toledo (Spain), from 12 to 15 December . ESA takes the opportunity of this workshop, that gathers together many ‘infrared pioneers’, to celebrate the discovery of infrared light.

Media representatives are welcome to attend the FIRST workshop in Toledo.

The FIRST workshop at Toledo

FIRST’s main research topics include the formation of galaxies and stars. However, FIRST’s observing time will be open to the world scientific community and therefore astronomers will discuss how to prioritise the use of the telescope. This one of the goals of the workshop ‘The Promise of FIRST’, to be held in Toledo (Spain), on 12-15 December. An updated review of the infrared discoveries so far will be presented by some of the most outstanding infrared astronomers.

At the FIRST workshop in Toledo, as part of ESA’s celebration of the discovery of infrared light, ESA will present the publication “The Infrared Revolution – Unveiling the Hidden Universe”. This 45-page brochure is aimed at sharing with the general public the emotions astronomers feel when exploring the infrared Universe. It tells the story of the onset and development of infrared astronomy, and explains the discoveries so far. It also introduces future missions, such as FIRST and the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), to be possibly launched in 2009 as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

An electronic version of this publication is also available at, where a special section on Infrared Astronomy, called “The Infrared Revolution”, has been created. This section will also include daily reports from the Toledo workshop.

ESA Science Communication
Service, +31 71 5653223
Press contact during the workshop:
Monica Salomone, +34 649 934887