Welcome to the Press Room of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), brought to you by the Department of Communication. Here you will find information about press releases, the image gallery, video libraries, mailing lists, media visits, and more.
To start receiving our news items for the media, please fill in the following form. Fields marked with a star are compulsory. If you wish to receive possible ESO products we recommend that you provide a correct postal address as well. ESO reserves the right to check the correctness of the information and grant access only to those that provide accurate information. You can read more under the section called Newsletters, here below.
ESO press releases describe important scientific, technical and organisation developments and achievements, as well as results obtained by scientists using ESO facilities. The goal of these press releases is to share exciting discoveries and the beauty of the Universe with the general public.
Press release types
ESO publishes three different types of press releases:
- Science Release
A science release describes scientific results usually appearing in a peer-reviewed journal that involve data from ESO observatories or ESO staff. These press releases explain the significance of the findings and provide contact information for the scientists announcing their results.
- Organisation Release
Organisation releases cover a range of themes related to ESO operations, including news on current and future observatories, new astronomical instruments, and announcements of exhibitions all over the world. Among other topics, organisation releases also report on the accession of new ESO member states and more exotic items such as filming for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.
- Photo Release
The science of astronomy yields beautiful, awe-inspiring images of the cosmos. ESO selects the best of these images and presents them to the public in periodic photo releases. These photo releases provide a detailed description of the object in the image and explain the science behind such cosmic wonders.
Announcements are shorter than press releases (typically below 200 words) and highlight stories and events which are of interest to the community. This includes announcing dates and locations of upcoming events, presenting new ESOcasts and highlighting interesting scientific results which are not covered in Science Releases. Announcements can also promote new ESO products.
Pictures of the Week show beautiful or interesting photos from ESO telescopes, and can highlight recent events or archival photos. They are accompanied by a short explanatory text. They are released every Monday, at 10:00 CET.
Press release archive
View all ESO press releases dating back to 1985.
Space Scoop — astronomy news for children
Space Scoop is a service provided by ESO in partnership with the educational project Universe Awareness (UNAWE) and is specifically addressed to children aged between seven and eleven years old, with or without the assistance of parents and educators. Space Scoop explains ESO Science and Photo Releases in a language that children can easily understand. To access them, look for the Space Scoop icon located at the top of each press release's page.
A dedicated network of persons in the ESO Member Countries, the ESO Science Outreach Network, is set up to serve as local contacts for the media in connection with ESO developments. They also translate ESO's press releases into their local languages.
Procedures and principles behind ESO press releases
To the best of its abilities, ESO endeavours to ensure that its press releases are factually correct representations of the underlying scientific work and are written in a way that avoids misinterpretations and exaggerations. In order to ensure that the public can consider ESO press releases as reliable sources of information, ESO has adopted the following procedures and principles.
- ESO science press releases are not themselves scientific papers, but report on science claims made in bona-fide scientific papers. Accordingly, ESO science press releases are usually based on formal papers that followed a standard peer-review procedure and have been accepted for publication in a scientific journal.
- In exceptional cases, an ESO science press release may be based on a paper that has been submitted to a journal but has not yet been formally accepted. In such cases, the press release will clearly state that the scientific paper is "only" a submission.
- In addition to the standard peer review system, which is conducted independently of ESO, an ESO science press release is subject to an internal review involving senior scientists of the organisation. Their task is to verify the high quality and solid basis of the scientific claims put forward in the original scientific paper, and to verify that statements in the press release correctly reflect those claims. The senior scientists' agreement is required in order to issue a science press release.
- Should in the course of time a scientific claim reported in a science, organisational, or photo release be proven false, ESO will insert a proper note of retraction in the original press release, which is retained on the ESO website.
Press Release dissemination
As a general rule, all ESO press releases are sent to media representatives subscribed to our Media Newsletter (see below), to the AAS mailing list, and to AlphaGalileo and EurekAlert! about 24 to 48 hours in advance of their public release, giving them access to the full press release text and associated multimedia. The notice is typically sent on Mondays and the press release is made public on Wednesdays. In certain cases, ESO press releases may instead be sent “For Immediate Release” or at different times with specific embargo conditions (for example, for papers published in Nature or Science).
Our advance notice system gives journalists time to research a topic, gather relevant information or conduct interviews, which leads to better and a more accurate coverage of our news and, ultimately, better information for the public. We use the well-established term “embargo” to emphasise that the material must be made public only two days later. However, it is certainly not our intention to “hype” the news item. To check the usefulness of this system, we have done a media poll in July 2011. To access the results please go here.
Wherever possible, we do our best to issue a release at (or close to) the same time as the paper’s publication in an academic journal. We recognise that material that is already public (for example, abstracts, online preprints, published papers) is “fair game” for journalists.
However, we consider that our press release package (with its less technical text, quotes from the scientists, and rich images and video) provides significant added value for journalists over the academic paper alone.
If a journalist publishes a story using the material from our press release package (for example, quotes, additional information, or associated multimedia) before the advance notice period ends, we consider this breaking the “embargo” conditions. We will therefore remove the journalist in question from the Media Newsletter mailing list without further notice and add him/her to the public newsletter(s) that deliver(s) news at the time of public release, without priority access. We will also request that the journalist be removed from the AAS embargo mailing list, and that the action be treated as the breaking of an embargo according to the conditions of AlphaGalileo and EurekAlert!
The ESO Department of Communication offers journalists and the public a number of newsletters to keep updated with the latest ESO news. The Media Newsletter is aimed at journalists and the Newsletter for Broadcasters for everyone working with television.
Bona fide members of the press, as well as brodcasters may sign up here to receive the Media Newsletterin English or a local language at their choice. The newsletter contains ESO press releases sent about 48 hours in advance of public dissemination, as well as latest videos and footage from ESO, available for use in documentaries, movies, video news etc (see "ESO's advance notice system" above). In certain cases, ESO press releases may also be sent “For Immediate Release” or at different times with specific embargo conditions (for example, for papers published in Nature or Science).
Apart from press releases and accompanying materials, the Media Newsletter also contains latest Pictures of the Week, announcements or video materials that media representatives could find useful.
Please fill in the following form in order to be subscribed. Fields marked with a star are compulsory. If you wish to receive possible communication products we recommend that you provide a correct postal address as well. We reserve the right to check the correctness of the information and grant access only to those that provide accurate information. Those subscribed to the newsletter will receive a confirmation email. If you have additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The News from ESO Newsletter
The News from ESO Newsletter is addressed to members of the public who wish to stay in touch with the latest ESO science news, photo releases, announcements, Pictures of the Week and more. You can subscribe here or visit the ESO news archive.
The ESO Outreach Community Newsletter
ESO also distributed a monthly newsletter focused on outreach news and resources. To learn more about it, please go here.
Include our RSS feeds in your RSS Reader and stay informed about the latest news!
- All press releases
News about ESO science and operations.
ESO's signature video podcast series, available in a variety of video formats.
A video podcast chronicling the Hubble Space Telescope, produced at ESO in conjunction with ESA and NASA. Also available in a variety of video formats.
- Picture of the Week
A stunning new photo every week! Click here to see all.
Keep up on ESO organisation announcements for both the public and the scientific community.
- Portal To The Universe
A global portal for online astronomy content, serving as an index and aggregator featuring news, blogs, video podcasts, audio podcasts, images, videos and more. Visit the portal by clicking here.
- ESO images
- ESO Videos
Learn more about the specific Video News Reels and Video Compilations for broadcast use.
Facts about ESO
Find information here about the history of ESO and its world-class observatories.
Press kits related with ESO activities are available in different languages here.
ESO welcomes journalists, science writers and producers interested in visits to the observatory sites in Chile for production of news stories, documentaries, photo books and other projects. Please read the media visit guidelines.
ESO images and motion pictures may be reproduced on a non-exclusive basis without fee so long as ESO is clearly credited as the source of the image material. Read more here.
ESO Media Polls
The 2011 ESO Media Poll was distributed to people through the epodpress and the AAS mailing lists, and responses were collected for two weeks between 24 June and 8 July 2011.
130 anonymous members of the press participated. 16 PIOs (part-time or full-time) were excluded from this analysis so as to focus exclusively on the needs of bona fide journalists, leaving 114 as the total number of participants, with an average age of 46. Of these, 36% came from the USA and Germany (in an equal split). The rest of the journalists are spread internationally, with a total of 75% from the ESO Member States.
The report gives a brief summary of the data, and a preliminary analysis, rather than a fully fledged statistical treatment. All questions have been included. All answers have been included, except for free text comments that could give indications of the identity of the respondents.