"Small" telescopes at ESO: from Detectors to Science and Training (a personal view from the early years on…)

2019-06-15T05:02:20Z (GMT) by Dennefeld, Michel

The first years of ESO-LaSilla, until the arrival of the 3.6m telescope, correspond to a period of world-wide, intense developments on the detector side, from sensitising of photographic plates, to intensified detectors, scanners, etc...until the arrival of the first CCD's. This had a profound influence on the type of science achievable with "small" telescopes. This paper describes the evolution of science and observations with ESO's "large telescope" at the time at LaSilla and reviews also the various surveys undertaken with the "small telescopes".
Emphasis is put also on the training aspects, which were considered from the beginning, developed into Observing Schools, and should take  an even greater importance in the future, now that these telescopes become relatively more available. It is suggested that  LaSilla could play a still greater role in the future, by using various telescopes for follow-up of the Transient Sky, a new developing branch of Astrophysics:  the large number of Alerts which require a classification provide an excellent training ground for beginners, both in the variety of astrophysical phenomena and in the variety of required observing techniques.