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ann11060 — Announcement
ESOcast 34: How To Stop a Star's Twinkle
5 September 2011: We have all looked up at the sky at night and seen the stars twinkle. It may be pretty and romantic, but it is also a big problem for astronomers, as the shimmering starlight blurs observations. In this ESOcast we visit the Allgäu public observatory amid the picturesque landscape of southern Germany. Here, as night falls, a team of scientists and engineers prepares to field test a laser guide star unit, which will soon be on its way to ESO’s Paranal Observatory. This cutting edge technology can help astronomers cancel out the effects of the turbulence in the atmosphere and obtain much sharper views of the Universe. Credit ESO.Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada. Editing: Herbert Zodet. Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida. Written by: Oli Usher and Herbert Zodet. Narration: Dr. J and Robert Fosbury. Music: John Dyson (from the album ...
ann11059 — Announcement
Cryogenic “Catering Truck” Comes to ALMA
2 September 2011: The ultimate in high altitude, high-tech catering has arrived in Chile to serve chilled "provisions" to the antennas at the largest astronomical complex in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).Although it may look just like an airline catering truck, this vehicle is designed to carry something considerably more delicate than airplane meals! Each of the giant ALMA antennas contains a set of state-of-the-art, extremely sensitive superconducting receivers, or detectors, which are cryogenically cooled to –269 degrees Celsius (4 degrees above absolute zero). Until now, servicing these detectors has required moving the entire antenna, which weighs about 100 tonnes, from its observing site on the 5000-metre Chajnantor plateau down to the support facility at 2900 metres.The newly arrived servicing truck, called the Front End Service Vehicle (FESV), is a custom designed truck packed with the equipment required to transport these delicate detector systems without having to move the entire ...
ann11058 — Announcement
ESO Call for Proposals for Period 89 Released
31 August 2011: The ESO Call for Proposals for Period 89 has been released. The deadline is 29 September 2011, 12:00 noon CEST. Links More information:
ann11057 — Announcement
Open House at ESO 2011: Help build a full-size model of the E-ELT mirror
29 August 2011: For a German version of this announcement please go here. The European Southern Observatory (ESO), the world’s most productive astronomical observatory, will open its doors to the public for one day, on Saturday 15 October 2011 between 11:00 and 18:00 at ESO Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany. This event is part of the Open House Day activities for the whole Garching research campus, and several other local institutes will also open their doors to the public.The highlight of ESO’s Open House Day 2011 — weather conditions permitting — will be the outdoor construction of a full-sized model of what will be the biggest telescope mirror ever built. Using 798 cardboard hexagons, each roughly 1.4 metres across, visitors will assemble a mock-up of the 39.3-metre diameter main mirror of the European-Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The mock-up will occupy an area of nearly 1000 square metres on the ground next to ...
ann11056 — Announcement
Pioneering Astronomical Watch Launched by IWC at ESO’s Paranal Observatory
29 August 2011: The unique location of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Chile, was the venue chosen by the prestigious Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen to launch a pioneering technological achievement: the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia, a watch that combines solar time with sidereal time, together with astronomical displays such as a chart of the stars overhead for a given geographical location.The Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is the most complex timepiece ever created by IWC, in perfect harmony with the high precision requirements of the astronomical observations at Paranal. “With a history already stretching back over 140 years, IWC sets a new benchmark with this watch. No wonder IWC decided to premier this watchmaking milestone at the Very Large Telescope,” says Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.Media professionals from all over the world attended the event and experienced the unique ambience as the domes opened at sunset. They also ...
ann11055 — Announcement
Don’t Miss Out on What’s New at ESO!
26 August 2011: The European Southern Observatory’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) has launched a series of newsletters to stay in touch with anyone who is interested in news from the organisation — from laypeople to media. The newsletters gather all the latest news, products and opportunities into one place in a visually pleasing format, combining text, images and links that can be accessed easily and shared on social media platforms. Anyone who subscribes to the esonews mailing list will start receiving the ESO News newsletter roughly once a week, when press releases are released. Those who haven’t yet subscribed, but wish to be informed about the latest discoveries coming from ESO, are invited to provide an e-mail address here. The ESO Outreach Community Newsletter is addressed to informal educators such as science centres, museums, planetariums and public observatories, as well as to teachers, science communicators, public information officers and professional and ...
ann11054 — Announcement
ESO Introduces the Cosmic Gems Programme
24 August 2011: ESO is announcing a new initiative to produce spectacular astronomical images using small amounts of time on the organisation’s telescopes for the purposes of education and public outreach. This will allow ESO to continue to supply the public with spectacular colour pictures, and maintain its world-leading position in astronomy education and outreach. The first image to come out of this initiative shows a peculiar pair of galaxies — and is a stunning testament to the optical quality of the VLT and the skies over the Paranal Observatory. In this initiative, ESO’s Director General has granted dedicated observing time for outreach purposes as part of the ESO Director’s Discretionary Time programme. The small amount of time provided is mostly “low-grade time” — when the clouds roll in or there are moonlit skies not requested for science observations, and the telescopes might otherwise be idle. The data collected are also made available ...
ann11053 — Announcement
Virtual Tours 360° — Where on Earth is ESO?
19 August 2011: The new and improved ESO Virtual Tours 360° take you one step beyond! Using Google maps you can now find out exactly where ESO is. And with the new viewpoint feature you can see your exact vantage point and which direction you’re facing at any time. This new perspective lets you navigate your way across the globe, from our observatories in the Chilean Andes to the Headquarters building in Munich suburbia, and find out where ESO goes to work. Each tour has been rejuvenated, with a host of new and breathtaking panoramas and videos, such as this stunning VLT timelapse footage. Background information is available at all sites, including information on ESO’s telescopes and instruments. And now you can take a look behind the scenes at ESO Headquarters, too! Take a trip to Garching (near Munich) in Germany and enter the Headquarters building through the reception hall. Look around the ...
ann11052 — Announcement
The Next ESO Picture of the Week Could Be Yours
12 August 2011: ESO is launching a new initiative — a Flickr group called Your ESO Pictures, which will work as a platform for everyone who wishes to share their ESO-related photos with the world. You are encouraged to submit pictures of anything connected with ESO — snapshots of our telescopes, drawings, your own artwork inspired by ESO or even images produced from astronomical data from ESO telescopes. We will select the best ones and occasionally feature them as Pictures of the Week on If you have a more extensive gallery of pictures taken at ESO sites you could even receive the title of ESO Photo Ambassador.The Flickr group accepts photographs and videos, as well as illustrations and animations. Examples of content, authored by ESO Photo Ambassador José Francisco Salgado, have already been added to the group pool. Now it is your turn: join Your ESO Pictures and start sharing your images ...
ann11051 — Announcement
ESOCast 33: Under Chilean Skies
11 August 2011: Cloudy skies are an astronomer’s nightmare. And while illuminated cities are a night-time beacon of modern civilisation, bright night skies are also a no-go zone for world-class astronomical observations. So, in the pursuit of pristine skies, ESO, the European Southern Observatory operates its telescopes far beyond Europe, in the remote and arid landscape of the Atacama Desert in Chile.In this ESOcast, Dr J looks at why this hostile environment is one of the best places on Earth to observe the night sky.
ann11050 — Announcement
Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation Visits Paranal and ALMA
3 August 2011: On 1–2 August 2011, the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile was honoured with a visit from the Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation, Cristina Garmendia Mendizábal.The distinguished visitor was present when the dome of one of the four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of ESO’s Very Large Telescope opened for a night’s observing at Cerro Paranal, the world’s most advanced visible-light observatory. Minister Garmendia was accompanied by Carlos Martinez Riera, Director General for International Cooperation at the Ministry for Science and Innovation (MICINN), Xavier Barcons, Spanish delegate and Vice-president of the ESO Council,  and Juan Manuel Cabrera, Spanish Ambassador in Chile. The group was hosted at Paranal by the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, the ESO Representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, and the Director of Operations, Andreas Kaufer. After the opening of the telescope, Minister Garmendia enjoyed the spectacular sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the VLT platform. Then she visited ...
ann11049 — Announcement
ESO Telescopes Successfully Face Worst Weather in a Decade
14 July 2011: Over a five day period starting on 4 July 2011 the northern part of Chile, including the Chilean Atacama Desert — normally one of the driest places on Earth — was hit by one of the most intense weather fronts to pass through the region in more than 10 years. ESO’s Paranal Observatory was in the path of this extremely rare storm, but the safety procedures that were in place worked very well. No one was injured and there was no damage to the telescopes. Only minor damage to the site infrastructure was recorded, demonstrating that all installations at Paranal are well prepared for the rare adverse weather conditions that can occur on a high mountain in the Atacama Desert. This weather system was the worst experienced by the observatory since the beginning of operations in 1998. There was very high humidity, strong winds over 30 metres/second, large amounts of ...
ann11048 — Announcement
New Issue of Communicating Astronomy With the Public Journal Is Now Out!
11 July 2011: The 11th issue of the free peer-reviewed journal for science communicators, Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal (CAPjournal), is now available for download. This edition, which tackles some of the biggest challenges for astronomy communicators, is not to be missed. One of the articles provides an overview of astronomy activities designed specifically for those with special needs, and shows that working with these audiences can be very rewarding. Another describes a challenge, and possible solutions, identified in planetary science outreach but applicable more widely: how to involve the research community in public engagement activities.Another highlight of the issue is an article on “outrageous” outreach, which describes unconventional ways of communicating astronomy with the public. It explains how traditional means of communication are becoming ever less effective and shows some of the alternative ways science organisations can reach out to the public.
ann11047 — Announcement
Last Chance for CAP2011 Abstracts
11 July 2011: In only four days, on 15 July, the deadline for abstracts for the Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2011 Conference (CAP2011) expires. CAP2011 takes place between 10 and 14 October 2011 at the Xiyuan Hotel in Beijing, China. Public information officers, educators, science communicators, journalists and bloggers and professional and amateur astronomers are invited to register and choose between presenting a poster or giving a talk on a topic that addresses one or more of the conference’s themes: Social media for astronomy outreach Media relations in the digital age Audiovisual and multimedia communication including tools and techniques The challenges of the digital era Alternative ways for communicating astronomy with the public Crowdsourcing/citizen science projects Amateur astronomers: an army for astronomy outreach The role of science centres, planetariums and observatories Using astronomy outreach to interest children in science and technology Communicating across national, language, political, social and cultural borders Astronomy communication ...
ann11046 — Announcement
Almost 1000 proposals submitted for ALMA Early Science observations!
8 July 2011: Although ALMA will still be under construction until 2013, the 16-antenna array that will be available for Early Science observations around the end of September 2011 already outmatches all other telescopes of this kind. The deadline for astronomers to propose projects for this phase of operations passed in a flurry of activity at the end of June. And now the count is in: astronomers from around the world have submitted almost 1000 proposals for Early Science observations. The level of demand for observing time with ALMA corresponds to about nine times the number of observations that are expected be carried out during the first phase of Early Science. This demonstrates how excited researchers are to use ALMA, even at this early stage. Furthermore, the proposals cover a very broad range of scientific topics, emphasising how ALMA will have a wide-reaching transformative effect on astronomy and astrophysics.ALMA is a partnership of ...
ann11045 — Announcement
ESO Introduces Astronomy Outreach Partners
8 July 2011: ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) has initiated an exclusive network of long-term collaborators in an effort to inspire people about the Universe we live in — the ESO Outreach Partner Organisations (EOPO). The first few member organisations were chosen from among those planetariums, science centres and other informal educational institutions that have previously collaborated in ePOD outreach projects such as the GigaGalaxy Zoom project and the 15th and 20th anniversaries of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. There are currently eight organisations in the EOPO network, based in seven different countries: Ars Electronica Center (Austria), Tycho Brahe Planetarium (Denmark), Hamburg Planetarium (Germany), Zeiss Planetarium Bochum (Germany), Eugenides Foundation (Greece), Blackrock Castle Observatory (Ireland), the Navegar Foundation (Portugal), and the Royal Observatory Greenwich (UK).  Partner organisations enjoy a series of benefits including access to priority information such as news about future campaigns, competitions or events, promotional support to gain visibility, ...
ann11044 — Announcement
ESO Picture of the Paranal Observatory Voted Wikimedia Picture of the Year 2010
4 July 2011: ESO’s Picture of the Week from 6 September 2010 was voted Wikimedia Picture of the Year 2010 in the fifth edition of the annual competition[1], that takes place on the Wikipedia Commons [2]. The winning picture was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky in mid-August 2010 from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, using a wide-angle lens that covers about 180 degrees of the sky.For this year’s competition more than 1500 Wikimedians cast 2463 votes for 783 photos. All entries in the contest were featured pictures on Wikimedia Commons during 2010. The winning picture, which showcases ESO’s Paranal Observatory in action, received 241 votes during the second of the two rounds of the competition. In this picture, ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky captured the work of a group of astronomers who were observing the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way, using the laser guide star facility on Yepun, one ...
ann11043 — Announcement
ESO Science Outreach Network Expanded
30 June 2011: ESO has extended its science outreach network by appointing national representatives for Albania, Cyprus, Greece and Ukraine, as well as for its newest member state, Brazil. As a result, the number of languages in which important parts of the ESO official website are available has increased to 18 [1].Members of the ESO Science Outreach Network (ESON) act as ESO’s local media and outreach contacts with the general aim of promoting ESO's mission and demonstrating the many inspirational aspects of astronomy. They also serve as contacts between the media and scientists in their local area and can also be approached in connection with ESO’s projects and other science outreach initiatives.Aside from being valuable ambassadors for ESO and astronomy in their countries, ESON representatives maintain ESO sites in the language spoken in their country. They translate important information about ESO  and most of them also translate ESO press releases (into 18 different ...
ann11042 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 12 July 2011
30 June 2011: The exploration of the Universe using radio waves is an exciting research area that has been in continuous development since the mid-20th century. ALMA, a new radio observatory, is being built at an altitude of over 5000 metres in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It will eventually include 66 individual telescopes, working together to collect submillimetre and millimetre radio waves. What are these waves from outer space? Why are they useful for observing the cosmos? Wolfgang Wild, the European ALMA Project Manager from ESO will answer these questions, as well as those from the audience of the Café & Kosmos. The Café & Kosmos series of discussions is organised jointly by ESO, the Excellence Cluster Universe and the Max-Planck Institutes for Physics, Astrophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics. The discussions take place on the second Tuesday of each month at the Vereinsheim, in Munich (please note the change of day and venue, ...
ann11041 — Announcement
ESOcast 32: Most Distant Quasar Found
29 June 2011: Quasars are extraordinarily bright distant galaxies that are thought to be powered by vast black holes at their centres. Now, a team of European astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope, and a host of other telescopes, to find the most distant of these brilliant beacons ever recorded — it is so far away that it took 12.9 billion years for its light to reach us.In this ESOcast, Dr J explains how astronomers spent five years painstakingly searching for this object, and how its properties can help us understand the early Universe.Check out more episodes of the ESOcast here. Credit ESOVisual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis CalçadaEditing: Herbert ZodetWeb and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi ShidaWritten by: Sarah Roberts and Richard HookNarration: Dr. J Music: Movetwo and John Dyson (from the album Darklight)Footage and photos: ESO, A. M. Swinbank and S. Zieleniewski, Stéphane Guisard ( ...