SONG stands for Stellar Observations Network Group. Launched in 2006 by astronomers at Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen, SONG is a Danish-led project dedicated to the design and construction of a global network of small telescopes for the study of stars and planetary systems around stars. The idea was to develop an inexpensive, ultra-modern robotic telescope that would provide maximum scientific impact for the cost and be scientifically unique even before the completion of the entire planned globe-spanning network of eight telescopes.
A prototype of the first telescope, financed by Danish sources, has now been erected and tested at the Teide Observatory on Mount Izaña in Tenerife. At just 1 meter in diameter, the telescope is much smaller than many modern telescope – it is the instrumentation and the possibilities offered by the eventual network that sets SONG apart. The technical equipment, installed in an adjacent shipping container, can all be controlled remotely via an ordinary Internet connection. The facility cost DKK 30 million, significantly less than many of the other new facilities around the world.
The scientific goals of SONG are:
In addition to its telescope in Tenerife, a node has been set up at the Mt. Kent Observatory in Southern Queensland, Australia. This node consists of two 70cm telescopes feeding light to one spectrograph similar to the one in Tenerife. Another node in the SONG network is under development in China, which is based on the Danish prototype and is currently in the testing phase but planned to be moved to a new site.
The Danish SONG telescope in Tenerife, the Hertzsprung SONG telescope, is owned and operated by Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands (IAC). It is financed by the Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation, Carlsberg Foundation, the Danish Council for Independent Research | Natural Sciences (FNU), European Research Council, Danish National Research Foundation, Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.