ESO Celebrates its New Technology Telescope
6 February 1990
In the presence of a distinguished audience of ministers and high-ranking officials, as well as representatives of European industry and scientists from the member states, the European Southern Observatory today officially inaugurates its revolutionary 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT).
The festive act takes place simultaneously at ESO's Headquarters in Garching near Munich, F.R.Germany, and at the La Silla observatory in the Atacama desert, Chile. The two ESO sites, 12,000 kilometres apart, will be connected with a transatlantic TV link. During the ceremony, which commences at 14:15 MET (10:15 Chilean time), the NTT at La Silla will be remotely controlled from Europe via a satellite link.
Official speeches will be delivered by Dr. Antonio Ruberti, Minister of Research and Technology, Rome, Italy; Ambassador Jean-Pierre Keusch, Director of the Directorate of International Organizations, Bern, Switzerland; Dr. Heinz Riesenhuber, Federal Minister of Research and Technology, Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany; Professor Hubert Curien, Minister of Science and Technology, Paris, France. On behalf of ESO, interventions will be made by the Professor Per-Olof Lindblad, President of the ESO Council; Professor Harry van der Laan, ESO Director General; Professor Massimo Tarenghi, Manager of the NTT project; Dr. Raymond Wilson, ESO Senior Optical Scientist; Daniel Hofstadt, Chairman of the La Silla Management Team. The Bishop of La Serena, the capital of the IV Region in Chile, in which La Silla is located, will pronounce a blessing of the new instrument.
At the inaugural ceremony, a 25-minute BBC-made film about ESO will be shown for the first time. The most recent astronomical images from the NTT will also be presented.
The inauguration will be followed by a scientific session with talks by three distinguished European astrophysicists, Professors G. Miley (Leiden, The Netherlands), F. Pacini (Florence, Italy) and G. Tammann (Basel, Switzerland).
The ESO NTT is a telescope of the 21st century and incorporates many new technologies, in particular within optics, mechanics and electronics. Moreover, the NTT building has been especially conceived to ensure a minimal influence on the observations.
Already during the night of "first light" (eso8903), the NTT has demonstrated its enormous observational possibilities. This has been fully confirmed by a great variety of astronomical observations, carried out by ESO staff astronomers in the course of the start-up phase. Unprecedentedly sharp images have been obtained (down to 0.33 arcseconds FWHM) and extremely faint objects have been recorded (under seeing conditions not unusual at La Silla, stars fainter than 25th magnitude are registered in 10-minute CCD exposures).
The first visiting astronomers from ESO member countries to the NTT were received at La Silla on January 17, 1990. The first programme was dedicated to Supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The NTT, while an excellent telescope in its own right, is also the forerunner of ESO's next telescope project, the 16-metre Very Large Telescope, which is expected to be ready in 1999. Consisting of four 8.2-metre telescopes, it will become the largest ground-based telescope in the world.
This Press Release is accompanied by a new brochure and a compendium with background information which summarizes the main features of the NTT. Further NTT images are available from the ESO Information Service upon request, cf. the attached list.
List of available NTT photos
This Press Release is accompanied by the following thirty-one photos, most of which are astronomical exposures obtained with the NTT. ``BW'' and ``C'' indicate that the photo is available in BW and Colour, respectively.
NTT image C01: The ESO New Technology Telescope Building
NTT image BW01: The ESO New Technology Telescope Building
NTT image C02: The ESO New Technology Telescope
NTT image C03: The NTT 3.58-metre Main Mirror
NTT image C04: The NTT Mirror Support System
NTT image C05: The NTT Windscreen
NTT image BW06: Herbig-Haro Object No. 34
NTT image BW07: Herbig-Haro Object no. 46/47 in the Gum Nebula
NTT image C08: The Butterfly Nebula
NTT image BW09: The Central Area of The Crab Nebula (R)
NTT image BW10: A Very Distant Globular Cluster
NTT image BW11: Globular Cluster in the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy
NTT image BW12: The Centre of the Tarantula Nebula
NTT image BW13: Supernova Remnant N 49 in the LMC
NTT image BW14: Light Echo Around SN 1987A
NTT image C15: The Surroundings of Supernova 1987A in the LMC
NTT image C16: Supernova 1987A in the LMC
NTT image C17: The Antique Nebula Around SN 1987A
NTT image BW18: Dwarf Galaxy NGC 625
NTT image BW19: The Centre of NGC 1365
NTT image BW20: Filaments Near the Centre of Messier 87
NTT image BW21: The Seyfert Galaxy NGC 1068
NTT image BW22: Violent Motion in NGC 1808
NTT image BW23: The Dusty Galaxy NGC 6300
NTT image BW24: The Peculiar Galaxy ESO 060-IG26
NTT image BW25: Distant cluster of galaxies
NTT image BW26: The “Einstein Cross'' Quasar
NTT image BW27: Blue Image of Giant Planet Jupiter
NTT image BW28: Infrared Image of Giant Planet Jupiter
NTT image BW29: Ultraviolet Image of Giant Planet Jupiter
NTT image BW30: Comet Austin (1989 c1)
NTT image BW31: A Dust Jet From Comet Austin (1989 c1)
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