Italian Involvement with ESO

Italy became the 8th member of ESO, when it joined in 1982.

Italy currently contributes 11.56% of ESO’s revenue, worth 18 778 000 EUR.

Discoveries by Italian astronomers using ESO telescopes

In July 2015, Luca Izzo at the Sapienza University of Rome, led many other scientists from institutions all over Italy and the world, to make the first detection of Lithium from an exploding star. They used the FEROS instrument on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla, as well the PUCHEROS spectrograph on the ESO 0.5-metre telescope at the Observatory of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santa Martina. (eso1531)

In March 2016, Paolo Molaro at the INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste led many other scientists from institutions all over Italy and the world to reveal unexpected changes in the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres. Observations were made using the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. (eso1609)

In April 2016, Enrichetta Iodice at INAF–Osservatorio di Capodimonte in Naples led a European team as they captured spectacular images of the Fornax Cluster. They used the OmegaCAM on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST). (eso1612)

In September 2016, Francesco Ferraro at the Università degli Studi di Bologna and Davide Massari at INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, led a team to discover a rare fossil relic of the early Milky Way. The stellar system resembles a globular cluster, but is like no other cluster known as it harbours stars of vastly differing ages. They used the MAD instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. (eso1630)

Additional Involvement

ESO presented at Expo Milano 2015, a World Exposition hosted by Milan. In the Chilean Pavilion visitors were welcomed with Ultra HD videos of the beautiful night skies and breathtaking scenery of Chile, including footage of the ALMA, La Silla and Paranal Observatories. (ann15039)

The ALMA Residencia Design was featured at the prestigious 2016 Architecture Biennale in Venice. It was the 15th International Exhibition to be held. (ann16059)

Number of Italian astronomers and staff working at ESO

There are currently 82 Italian nationals employed at ESO or working as students. Seventy are in Garching and twelve are in Santiago, Chile.

Italian contributions to the Paranal Observatory

UVES, the Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph, is installed on Unit Telescope 2 of the VLT. The instrument was built by ESO, and the Observatory of Trieste provided the control software, and made first light in October 1999. (eso9944)

The VST was designed by the Astronomical Observatory of INAF at Capodimonte, Naples. All components apart from the main optics, were built by Italian industries, and INAF managed the construction and assembly at Paranal. The project manager G. De Paris and the AIV manager D. Fierro (members of the INAF Department of National Projects, Monte Mario, Rome) also contributed. (eso1119)

Italian contributions to the ELT

On 25 May 2016, ESO signed the largest ever ground-based astronomy contract set out to construct the ELT Dome and Telescope Structure. The contract was made with the ACe consortium, consisting of Astaldi, Cimolai and the nominated sub-contractor EIE Group. The contract covers the design, manufacture, transport, construction, on-site assembly and verification of the dome and telescope structure. With an approximate value of 400 million euros, it is the largest contract ever awarded by ESO. (eso1617)

MAORY, the Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics RelaY, is a new adaptive optics module for the ELT. The Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) in is leading the project, in conjunction with France and ESO. (ann15093)