ESO Annual Report 2020 Now Available

1 July 2021

The ESO Annual Report 2020 is now available. It presents a summary of ESO’s many activities throughout the year. The contents include:

  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on ESO, including safety measures and the impact on staff;
  • The ramp-down of the observatories into “Safe State” in March and the ramp-up which began in September, enabling science data from Paranal, APEX and La Silla to flow again;
  • Work that continued in the laboratories under strict safety measures, providing crucial contributions to projects, as well as progress on design, software, data-related and other projects;
  • Further progress made both at ESO and in industry on the Extremely Large Telescope, on the Paranal Instrumentation Programme, and on ALMA development projects;
  • How scientific exploitation of ESO data continued to flourish during the year. Among the highlights was the confirmation of the predictions of General Relativity regarding the orbital precession of the star S2 around the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Galaxy. In relation to this, the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of this black hole to Reinhard Genzel (who has worked with ESO on the topic for more than 30 years) and Andrea Ghez (with work supported by the W. M. Keck Observatory), as well as to Roger Penrose for theoretical work on black holes;
  • The major milestone of the ESO Council’s approval of full funding for the Extremely Large Telescope Construction Programme — which also includes the telescope’s first suite of instruments and the preparation of Paranal to host and operate the telescope — as well as Council’s approval of ESO’s strategy for the next decade;
  • How engagement activities with the scientific community and society at large were successfully refocused under pandemic conditions, with well-attended online discussion forums, conferences and debates open to the entire scientific community as well as virtual observatory tours for the public.

This product can be downloaded for free and is available in the ESOshop.


  • Download the ESO Annual Report 2020 here
  • Find the ESO Annual Report 2020 in the ESOshop here


Oana Sandu
ESO Community Coordinator & Communication Strategy Officer

About the Announcement



Cover of the Annual Report 2020
Cover of the Annual Report 2020