Announcements 2011

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 (www.eso.org/~sguisard) ...
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.
ann11034 — Announcement
ESO Moves One Step Closer to the First Extremely Large Telescope
15 June 2011: With a decision by ESO Council to endorse a revised baseline design for the E-ELT, ESO is one step closer to starting construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) on 3060-metre-high Cerro Armazones near ESO’s Very Large Telescope site in Chile. After the successful E-ELT Design Review in September 2010 and with Brazil joining ESO (eso1050), the E-ELT project is now not only technically ready to enter the construction phase, but is also backed by a solid funding scenario.Between the end of 2010 and the summer 2011, the E-ELT project extended the detailed design phase in order to consider the recommendations of the E-ELT Design Review. The main goals were the reduction of risk by optimising the cost and constraining the schedule to make sure that ESO can further expand its leading role in astronomy by constructing the world’s first extremely large telescope.In June 2011, the ESO Council endorsed ...
ann11033 — Announcement
Science in School Issue 19 Out Now!
10 June 2011: The latest issue of Science in School, the European journal for science teachers, is now available online and in print. As with previous issues, number 19 is packed with inspiring science articles, classroom games, and hands-on activities. The science news and educational projects featured in issue 19 cover topics that range from biology and chemistry to the environment, particle physics, and astronomy. An exciting article, about a planet of extragalactic origin that is now within our own galaxy, tells more of the story behind a recent ESO news item. The planet, detected by a European team of astronomers using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope, orbits a star that originally belonged to a dwarf galaxy that was captured by the Milky Way. Other articles cover topics including space habitats, DNA fingerprinting, the chemistry of amber, and why the famously bright yellows of van Gogh’s paintings are darkening over time. Science in School is ...
ann11032 — Announcement
ESOcast 30: First Images from the VLT Survey Telescope
8 June 2011: This ESOcast introduces the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), the latest addition to ESO’s Paranal Observatory. This new telescope has just made its first release of impressive images of the southern sky. The VST is a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre telescope, with the huge 268-megapixel camera OmegaCAM at its heart. It is designed to map the sky both quickly and with very fine image quality. It is a visible-light telescope that perfectly complements ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope. Strikingly detailed images of the Omega Nebula and the globular cluster Omega Centauri demonstrate the VST’s power. Credit ESO Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada Editing: Herbert Zodet Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida Written by: : Richard Hook and Bárbara Ferreira Narration: Dr. J and Gaitee Hussain Music: Movetwo Footage and photos: ESO and Stéphane Guisard (www.eso.org/~sguisard) Directed by: Richard Hook and Herbert Zodet Executive producer: ...
ann11031 — Announcement
VLT's Interferometer Goes Deeper
6 June 2011: On the nights of 15–17 May 2011, astronomers successfully applied a new observing technique on ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). The new procedure is called “blind observation mode” and will allow interferometric observations to be made of targets significantly fainter than before. It has already produced detailed observations of the spectrum of a quasar, 10 times fainter than the best currently known results. The result was obtained by combining the light from three of the VLT’s 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes in the AMBER [1] beam combiner. The ground-breaking technique, developed by a team of astronomers led by Romain Petrov from the Laboratoire Fizeau (Université de Nice, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur and CNRS, France), allows them to observe targets that would ordinarily be far too faint to be detected by an interferometer. They do this by first observing a bright star near the faint target, which allows them to calibrate ...
ann11030 — Announcement
Czech Republic Commits to the E-ELT
3 June 2011: On 3 June 2011 in Prague, an agreement was signed committing the Czech Republic to provide its full share of the additional financial contribution required for construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The agreement was signed by the Director of the Department of International Cooperation in Research and Development of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, Dr Jan Marek — authorised by the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Josef Dobeš — and the ESO Director General, Prof. Tim de Zeeuw. The contribution will be made in two equal instalments, in 2012 and 2014, subject to approval of E-ELT construction by the ESO Council, which is currently planned to occur in December of this year. This agreement will help ESO keep its leadership in the field of ground-based astronomy. “This agreement is an important step on the road to building the E-ELT, which ...
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