Subscribe to receive news from ESO in your language!
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 ( ...
ann11040 — Announcement
ESOcast 31: Pandora's Cluster
22 June 2011: Galaxy clusters contain literally trillions of stars, and when these massive structures collide all manner of strange effects occur. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and a number of other top quality detectors, astronomers have been studying the colliding galaxy cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora’s Cluster because of the many strange phenomena taking place there. In this episode of the ESOcast join Dr J as we piece together the violent and complex history of Pandora’s Cluster, one of the strangest colliding clusters in the sky. Check out more episodes of the ESOcast here. Credits ESO. Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser Animations: Martin Kornmesser, Luis Calcada Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida Written by: Oli Usher and Richard Hook Narration: Gaitee Hussain Images: NASA, ESA, ESO Music: movetwo Directed by: Oli Usher Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen
ann11039 — Announcement
ESO’s New Compact Laser Guide Star Unit Tested
22 June 2011: Last night, ESO’s Wendelstein laser guide star unit had its first light at the Allgäu Public Observatory in Ottobeuren, Germany. Laser guide stars are artificial stars created high up in the Earth’s atmosphere using a laser beam with a power of several watts. The laser, in this case a powerful 20 watt yellow beam (operating at 589 nm), makes the sodium atoms in a layer 90 kilometres up in the atmosphere glow and so creates an artificial star in the sky that can be observed by a telescope. The adaptive optics equipment can then use measurements of the artificial star to correct for the blurring effect of the atmosphere in the observations.ESO has developed a concept for compact laser guide star units, whereby small powerful lasers are combined with a telescope that launches the beam, creating a single modular unit that can be mounted directly on a large telescope. This ...
ann11038 — Announcement
Alan Moorwood, 1945–2011
20 June 2011: Dr. Alan Moorwood, the longest serving astronomer at ESO until his retirement in May 2010, died on Saturday 18 June 2011, after a short and incurable illness. Alan Moorwood, born in May 1945, was educated in the United Kingdom. After a few years at ESA, he joined ESO as an infrared astronomer on 1 October 1978, when the Organisation was still based in Geneva. During an exemplary career at ESO, spanning more than three decades, Moorwood pioneered the development of infrared instrumentation for La Silla and co-authored the Very Large Telescope (VLT) instrumentation plan. He oversaw ESO’s entire instrumentation effort while at the same time maintaining a very active research programme resulting in nearly 400 publications, making him one of ESO’s most-cited astronomers. Moorwood’s research centred on using infrared imaging and spectroscopy obtained with space observatories and ground-based telescopes to understand star formation in galaxies, including the study of molecular ...
ann11037 — Announcement
ESO releases The Messenger No. 144
20 June 2011: ESO has released a new edition of its quarterly journal, The Messenger. This issue covers a range of topics from ESO’s telescopes to Open Days: Find out how the first South America country, Brazil, became a member of ESO. Keep up-to-date with ESO’s new telescopes and instruments. Learn about recent science results on the Magellanic Clouds and the Carina Dwarf Galaxy. Find out about recent and forthcoming ESO workshops. Follow ALMA as it gets ready to begin science observations. The Messenger is now available for download in PDF format. You can also subscribe to receive a free printed copy, just visit The Messenger website.
ann11036 — Announcement
Sweden Starts Committing to the E-ELT
17 June 2011: On 16 June 2011 Mariann Samuelson, acting director general of the Swedish Research Council, signed an agreement committing Sweden to provide the second instalment of its share of the additional financial contribution required for construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Sweden is now one step closer to its full financial commitment to the E-ELT. The country is the second ESO Member State to start providing financial contribution to the giant telescope, after the Czech Republic committed to provide its full share on 3 June 2011 (ann11030). The additional funding needed from the ESO Member States [1] consists of €250 Million in total and a 2% year-on-year increase of the annual contributions on top of the normal indexation over a decade. The agreement was handed over to Dr. David Edvardsson of the Swedish Research Council and Prof. Claes Fransson of Stockholm Observatory — the Swedish members of the ESO ...
ann11035 — Announcement
ESO Annual Report 2010 now available
15 June 2011: The ESO Annual Report 2010 is now available. It presents the many activities of the European Southern Observatory throughout the last year, covering topics including: ESO’s research highlights, with the latest results from the fields of exoplanet detection, the study of massive stars, and the history of star formation. An overview of the activities of ESO’s telescopes. A description of the status of the astronomical instruments at the La Silla and Paranal observatories, detailing new installations and upgrades. The progress of the exciting ALMA and E-ELT projects.