ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive astronomical observatory. It operates three sites in Chile — La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor — on behalf of its fifteen member states. It builds ALMA together with international partners, and designs the European Extremely Large Telescope.
VLT Spots Largest Yellow Hypergiant Star — Mix of new and old observations reveals exotic binary system
ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has revealed the largest yellow star — and one of the ten largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over sixty years, some from amateur observers, also indicate that this rare and remarkable object is changing very rapidly and has been caught during a very brief phase of its life.
Crashing Comets Explain Surprise Gas Clump Around Young Star — ALMA reveals an enigmatic gas clump in debris disc around Beta Pictoris
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile have today announced the discovery of an unexpected clump of carbon monoxide gas in the dusty disc around the star Beta Pictoris. This is a surprise, as such gas is expected to be rapidly destroyed by starlight. Something — probably frequent collisions between small, icy objects such as comets — must be causing the gas to be continuously replenished. The new results are published today in the journal Science.
A new innovative instrument called MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) has been successfully installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. MUSE has observed distant galaxies, bright stars and other test targets during the first period of very successful observations.
A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky — making it an important astronomical research target.
ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid’s formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.
Contacts and Bio
Blackrock Castle Observatory
Tel: +353 21 4357917
Clair McSweeney has a background in festival and event management, visitor centre management, social media and cultural and community outreach. She works closely with local education, community and tourism facilitators in her position as Facilities Manager at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, home to Cosmos at the Castle, an internationally award winning astronomy exhibit. BCO is also the site of BCOLabs, a research observatory.
Clair was born in Limerick, Ireland and has many years experience in cross-cultural event and facilities management with related positions in Ireland, Jamaica, Germany and San Francisco, USA. She graduated from University College Galway with an Honours BA in Arts and Languages in 1992 and has postgraduate diplomas in tourism and communications.
Clair is the only non-scientist in a work team of six scientists; this allows for varied and complementary skill sets to create agendas and programmes that showcase both the interactive astronomy exhibit and the outreach which manifests from Cosmos at the Castle, the research at BCO Labs and the facility’s global astronomy links. This includes work with her position as ESON representative in Ireland, projects with ESERO (European Space Education Resource Office) Ireland, spearheading local and national IYA2009 events and Beyond, UNAWE projects, Cork Science Café, Cork Skeptics at the Castle, high profile events such as an on-orbit live link to the ISS, international affiliations — EarthHour, Globe at Night, GAM, pan-global observatory links and locally, a host of Cork festivals that have found that astronomy really IS everywhere!
Her position at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory has opened her eyes to the opportunities afforded to a science centre that uses astronomy as a tool to engage with a wider audience.
Clair’s position as ESON representative in Ireland has both generated an enhanced BCO audience and a greater awareness of the work of ESO in Ireland. Her work with ESERO in Ireland has created new opportunities for developing space as a theme to engage STEM learning in the classroom.
Clair managed a highly successful programme of astronomy related activities for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 including orchestrating the theme of the Cork St Patrick’s Day Parade, UNAWE projects and lecture tours with the Vatican Astronomer, Br Guy Consolmagno and Carolyn Porco, Imaging Director for the Cassini Huygens mission to Saturn. She has also organised the Earth Hour action in Cork city.
Check the website of the Blackrock Castel Observatory, their Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Cork Institute of Technology
About the ESO Science Outreach Network
The ESO education and Public Outreach Department has established a network of contacts in the ESO Member states and other countries. The goal of this ESO Science Outreach Network (ESON) is to act locally as ESO's media and outreach representative, in order to promote ESO's mission and achievements, and demonstrate the many inspirational aspects of astronomy.
More information about ESON is available on: http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/eson.html