ESO at 60: Feet on the ground, eyes on the skies


Expressing thanks to the wider ESO community on our 60th anniversary

A message from the Director General, Xavier Barcons

Xavier Barcons

This week marks ESO’s 60th anniversary. On 5 October 1962 five countries agreed to create our organisation through the signature of a convention. Now, six decades later and supported by 16 Member States — Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as our Host and Partner State Chile, and Strategic Partner Australia, we continue to bring together people from across the globe to develop and operate advanced ground-based observatories that enable breakthrough astronomical discoveries.

ESO had originally planned public activities this week in the form of a live virtual guided tour of our sites and the release of an anniversary astronomical image but, in light of the ongoing events at La Silla, where Tom Marsh has been reported missing, we have postponed these. We felt that this is not the right moment for ESO to celebrate, and our efforts are focused on the search activities. The community-driven ESO days organised in most of the ESO Member States have started to take place and will continue through the first half of 2023. This has been an opportunity to meet with people in our community and mark many years of successful collaboration.

Building on our 60 years of experience in astronomy development, discovery and cooperation, we continue to chart new territory for astronomy, technology and international collaboration. With our current observatories and ESO’s upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), we will keep on advancing humanity’s understanding of the Universe by working with and for the astronomy community, providing it with world-leading facilities.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Member States, our Host and Partner State Chile, and our Strategic Partner Australia for their unfailing support and engagement over the years. In particular, I thank all the people connected with ESO for the part they have played in this endeavour. Whether you are someone who works at ESO now, or has worked with us in the past, whether you are part of our user community, a member of an instrument team, a contractor, one of our partners in industry, or a member of our governing bodies, you are a part of what makes ESO what it is today.

We are all together in this adventure, and I look forward to seeing together what future achievements and discoveries are waiting for us.


For the past 60 years ESO has been enabling scientists worldwide to discover the secrets of the Universe.

Our core mission is to design, build and operate the most advanced observatories on the ground and to foster international collaboration for astronomy. But our responsibility goes beyond that. We are taking steps towards charting a more sustainable future, not just from an environmental point of view, but also economically and socially. 

Today ESO telescopes provide data to a community of more than 20 000 astronomers and other scientists, educators, students, journalists, and amateur astronomers, located in more than 130 countries and territories around the world. But what happens tomorrow? 

On our 60th anniversary we want to look forward to what is ahead of us and how we are building on our legacy to continue the success story of international collaboration in astronomy and enable the next scientific discoveries, shape technological advancements, benefit society, and build a better future. 

Our anniversary activities include:

  • A social media campaign addressing the topics above. Follow #ESO60Years to discover it.
  • A live virtual guided tour of our sites on 2 December 2022, from 19:00 CET on our YouTube channel and Facebook page.
  • ESO Supernova event, streaming the virtual tour and interacting with our astronomers and engineers, 2 December 2022, 18:00-21:00 CET.
    Free tickets available here.
  • An anniversary astronomical image released here.
  • Anniversary events in our Member States and partner and other countries, some featuring our anniversary exhibition.


Anniversary events

The occasion of the ESO’s 60th anniversary represents an opportunity to reconnect with the astronomy and engineering communities, the government and policy makers, as well as the general public in our Member States and strategic partner Australia, while also highlighting the achievements of ESO and its broader societal benefits. Below you will find a list (continually updated) of various events that our Member States and partners are organizing with our support. 

Given the update above, we have informed our community of our decision to postpone our anniversary activities, leaving it up to our community to decide if they go ahead or not with local events.

Member States:
Non-Member States:


  • 8 October 2022: Ars Electronica Centre, Linz, general public event 

  • 2 December 2022: Astronomical Observatory, University of Vienna, general public event 


  • 8 December 2022: Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels, science, engineering, and general public event 


  • 21 February 2023, Senate of Czechia, Prague, science and policy event

  • 21 February 2023, The Prague Planetarium, general public event


  • 15 September 2022: Copenhagen, science and policy event 


  • 7-8 June 2023: Helsinki, science and policy event 

  • 17 September 2022: Space Park Väisälä, general public event 


  • 3 November 2022: Observatoire de Paris, science, industry, and policy event 

  • 6 December 2022: online, school pupils and general public event

  • 12 December 2022: Marseille and ESO, IMERA, site historique de l’Observatoire de Marseille, general public event


  • 14 December 2022: Haus der Astronomie (HdA) and Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), Heidelberg, school pupils event

  • 20 February 2023, Max Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching bei München, science and policy event


  • 1 September 2022: Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, County Dublin, science and policy event 


  • 10-12 June 2022: Astronomy Festival “The attractive Universe", Castellaro Lagusello, general public event

  • 28 October 2022: Festival della Scienza, online, general public event

  • 12 December 2022: INAF Headquarters, Rome, science and general public event

  • 14 December 2022: Sala Ulisse, Accademia delle Scienze, Bologna, general public event

  • 14 December 2022: Liceo Scientifico Statale "G. Galilei", Catania, general public event

  • 14 December 2022: Convitto Nazionale "M. Delfico", Teramo, general public event

  • 15 December 2022: Planetario InfiniTo, Torino, general public event

  • 16 December 2022: Planetario di Villa Filippina, Palermo, general public event

  • 16 December 2022: Planetario di Padova, Padova, general public event

  • 16 December 2022: Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Firenze, general public event


  • 26 September 2022: Boerhave Museum, Leiden, science, industry, and policy event



  • 11 February 2023, Astronomical Observatory of Lisbon (OAL), general public event

  • Observatório Astronómico da Ajuda, general public event — date to be confirmed

  • 11 February 2023, Planetário do Porto, general public event

  • 11 February 2023, Observatório Geofísico e Astronómico da Universidade de Coimbra, general public event

  • 24 February 2023, Observatório Astronómico de Santana (Açores), general public event

  • FIC.A - Festival Internacional de Ciência, Hub-ACT, Oeiras, general public event — date to be confirmed


  • 5 September 2022: Campus de Guajara, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, science and policy event 

  • Planetarium of Pamplona, Pamplona, general public event — date to be confirmed

  • Astronomical observatory of University of Valencia, general public event — date to be confirmed

  • Madrid Planetarium, Madrid, general public event — date to be confirmed

  • Agrupación Astronómica Sabadell, Sabadell (Barcelona), general public event — date to be confirmed

  • Planetarium of Castellon, general public event — date to be confirmed


  • 27 August 2022: Sagittarius Start Party, Södra Möckleby, Öland, general public event 

  • 24 September 2022: Astronomy Day and Night (ADON) science festival, Technical Museum, Stockholm, general public event

  • 5 October 2022: online, general public event 

  • 8-9 October 2022: Open House Day during World Space Week, Lund Planetarium, general public event 


  • 23 December 2022: Liceo Lugano 2 high school, Lugano, school pupils event

United Kingdom 

  • 5 October 2022: Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, general public event 



  • 2 December 2022: Konkoly Observatory, Svábhegyi Observatory and online, Budapest, general public event