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Letter of the PI to the AMBER team (21 March 2004)
Sunday 21 March 2004, by Romain Petrov

Dear all,

It is a real pleasure to inform you that early Sunday 21, around 3 am local time, we observed with AMBER our first fringes on the sky (on Theta Cen) in the K band, a few days ahead of schedule. A first attempt had been made the March 17th and has been used to learn and correct some problems in alignment and co alignment and in the star acquisition procedures.

This first result with stellar photons is a very pleasant and conforting milestone in the integration and verification of AMBER at Paranal. It is a special occasion to greet all the AMBER team and particularly all colleagues who played an extremely decisive role in this AIV but could not stay until the first succesfull sky tests. Among them, special greetings and thanks to our German and Italian Partners in the Consortium for their decisive support and their excellent contributions. I also want to thank all ESO team who gave us a very warm welcome and a remarquable support at Paranal. Only a dozen persons drank bottle of... champaign at Paranal that night, but many others were present in our hearts for this celebration

The fringes were very fugitive and quite difficult to obtain and to maintain. We have the feeling that we have learned how to improve that for the next nights, in order to acquire good data to conclude this Amber verification phase and to prepare next commissionning runs. We are still acquiring and reducing a lot of test and stability data. So far the result tend to indicate that the instrument and all its subsystems are nominal (probable, important but so far unique exception: the ADC who might require some substancial revision).

I hope to send you more news and details soon.

Best Greetings and Regards to all.

Romain Petrov.

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