Announcements 2014

ann14060 — Announcement
European Astronomy Journalism Prize 2014
18 August 2014: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) invites media representatives from its Member States to enter the 2014 European Astronomy Journalism Prize to win a trip to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. The prize is organised by ESO and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in conjunction with the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) and the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and it aims to encourage a wider coverage of astronomy and related subjects in the media to inspire the next generation of astronomers. Entries for the prize must be about astronomy and related areas of technology, or about the work and lifestyles of astronomers, engineers or others working in the field of astronomy. The entries must reflect European interests and they can be online, written or broadcast. Entries from all ESO Member States are welcome and must be in English. The submitted entries must have been published ...
ann14059 — Announcement
ALMA Pinpoints Pluto to Help Guide New Horizons Spacecraft
6 August 2014: Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) are making high-precision measurements of Pluto's location and orbit around the Sun to help NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft accurately home in on its target when it nears Pluto and its five known moons in July 2015.  Though observed for decades with telescopes here on Earth and in space, astronomers are still working out Pluto’s exact orbit around the Sun. This lingering uncertainty is due to Pluto’s great distance from the Sun (approximately 40 times farther out than the Earth) and the fact that we have been studying it for only about one-third of its orbit. The dwarf planet was discovered in 1930 and takes 248 years to complete one orbit around the Sun. “With these limited observational data, our knowledge of Pluto’s position could be wrong by several thousand kilometres, which compromises our ability to calculate efficient targeting manoeuvres for the New Horizons spacecraft,” ...
ann14058 — Announcement
CAPjournal 15 Now Available
28 July 2014: The 15th issue of Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal is out now! In this issue you will find articles that outline best practice for astronomy outreach with the visually impaired, with the elderly, with children and with audiences from around the world — from rural Mexico to downtown Tokyo, Japan. Amongst the research articles there are resources on designing your own spectroscopy lab, building a do-it-yourself portable planetarium programme and using new analogies to bring the Universe down to a scale that can be better understood. There is all this, and more, in this free, peer-reviewed journal for astronomy communicators — now available for download
ann14057 — Announcement
Solar Farm to be Installed at La Silla
21 July 2014: As part of its green initiatives, ESO has signed an agreement with the Chilean company, Astronomy and Energy (a subsidiary of the Spanish LKS Group), to install a solar farm at the La Silla Observatory. ESO has been working on green solutions for supplying energy to its sites for several years, and these are now coming to fruition. Looking to the future, renewables are considered vital to satisfy energy needs in a sustainable manner. ESO’s ambitious programme is focused on achieving the highest quality of astronomical research. This requires the design, construction and operation of the most powerful ground-based observing facilities in the world. However, the operations at ESO’s observatories present significant challenges in terms of their energy usage. Despite the abundance of sunshine at the ESO sites [1], it has not been possible up to now to make efficient use of this natural source of power. Astronomy and Energy ...
ann14056 — Announcement
Join ESO on Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and More
14 July 2014: ESO has recently expanded its presence on social media to connect better with its communities. You can now add ESO to your Google+ circle of friends if you want to stay up to date with our latest news, follow us on Pinterest if you are interested in our most beautiful photos or on LinkedIn if you are looking for career opportunities at ESO’s sites in Germany and Chile. You will also find more than 2000 ESO images uploaded to Wikimedia for use in Wikipedia and elsewhere. At the same time, ESO, together with the Joint ALMA Observatory and its international partners — the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan — have recently opened dedicated accounts for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Facebook and Twitter are also available in Spanish. To discover where to find ESO on social media, ...
ann14055 — Announcement
ESO Fellow Receives Prestigious Award for Best Doctoral Thesis
3 July 2014: ESO Fellow Claudia Del P. Lagos has won a 2014 MERAC (Mobilising European Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology) Prize for her doctoral thesis on the treatment of star formation and feedback in simulations of galaxy formation. The prize was presented at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland on 2 July 2014 in the category of Best Doctoral Thesis in Theoretical Astrophysics [1]. Claudia gave a plenary lecture at EWASS and will later give a lecture in Switzerland under the patronage of the FONDATION MERAC. Claudia’s PhD thesis focused on the galaxy formation model, GALFORM, which can implement essentially all existing theoretical models of star formation. Her work addresses the two key processes at the centre of how galaxies are made: the formation of stars and the regulation of star formation following the injection of energy into the interstellar medium — the material that ...
ann14054 — Announcement
ESOcast 66: A Groundbreaking Event for the E-ELT
2 July 2014: On 19 June 2014, a major milestone for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) was passed. Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones, the future site of the telescope, was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit. This new ESOcast tells the story of the blasting, the associated groundbreaking ceremony and the future prospects of the E-ELT. The ESOcast also shows spectacular views of Cerro Armazones, the E-ELT’s future home in the Atacama Desert, the explosion itself and explains the necessity to flatten its top to construct the telescope. This blast was only the first of several steps in this process. The first civil works at Cerro Armazones started in March 2014 and are expected to take 16 months. These works include the laying of a paved road, the construction of the summit platform and the construction of a service trench to the summit. A groundbreaking ceremony, ...
ann14053 — Announcement
The Messenger No. 156 Now Available
30 June 2014: The latest edition of ESO's quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. Find out the latest news from ESO on topics ranging from new instruments to the latest science discoveries. Highlights of this edition include: Exploring the Cold Universe at High Spectral Resolution using CRIRES+ NAOMI — a New Adaptive Optics Module for Interferometry The Austrian in-kind contribution on Adaptive Optics for the E-ELT ALMA resolves the disk of young starburst galaxy LABOCA and ALMA observe of sub-millimetre galaxies in CANDELS A report on the E-ELT workshop on exoplanets Download The Messenger in PDF format or visit The Messenger website to subscribe and receive a free printed copy.
ann14052 — Announcement
ESO Annual Report 2013 Now Available
27 June 2014: The ESO Annual Report 2013 is now available. It presents the many activities of the European Southern Observatory during the year, including: Research highlights from ESO facilities, with the latest results from fields covering aspects of astronomy stretching from observations of the Solar System out to the study of the early Universe. A summary of the activities at ESO’s observatories in Chile. The status of the telescopes and instruments at the La Silla and Paranal Observatory, describing in detail new instruments and upgrades. The latest news from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) projects. News about the ESO staff and buildings — including the new Headquarters extension in Garching.
ann14051 — Announcement
Free Fulldome Material for Planetariums
24 June 2014: With our upcoming ESO Supernova — Planetarium and Visitor Centre here in Garching in mind, the ESO education and Public Outreach Department has started producing high-quality material for use in fulldome planetarium shows in the facility from 2017. As part of our mandate to communicate astronomy with our Member States and beyond, we are making this material available for free to other planetariums. This was announced today at the 2014 meeting of the International Planetarium Society in Beijing. The first initiative we have undertaken in this respect is the ESO Ultra HD Expedition, where four world-renowned astrophotographers travelled to Chile to capture the Universe in ultra HD and fulldome format. We would like to share the fulldome results of the expedition through these dynamic links, which will update as more materials become available: UHD fulldome stills (fish-eye, 4K) (adding to ESO’s collection of fulldome stills) UHD fulldome timelapses (fish-eye, 4K) ...
ann14050 — Announcement
Video News Release 43: E-ELT Groundbreaking event
20 June 2014: Yesterday, on 19 June 2014, a major milestone towards construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) was reached. Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted, as a step towards levelling the summit, paving the way for the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. The groundbreaking event was marked at Paranal Observatory, 20 kilometres away from the blasting, and was attended by VIPs from both Chile and the ESO Member States as well as representatives of the local communities, senior officials from the project and ESO staff. This Video News Release for broadcasters provides a closer look at the event. Note that only natural sound is provided. More information in press release eso1419.
ann14049 — Announcement
Paranal–Armazones to be Connected to Chilean Power Grid
19 June 2014: ESO has signed an agreement with the company Grupo SAESA to connect its sites at Cerro Paranal and Cerro Armazones to the Chilean electric power grid. The new connection will reduce costs and provide greater reliability and stability, as well as reduce the observatory’s carbon footprint. The remoteness of the Atacama Desert presents significant challenges to ESO’s operations at its ALMA and Paranal observing sites as they currently have no connection to the Chilean power grid [1], relying instead on their own supply of energy. A power generating station currently operates at Paranal to supply the observatory [2]. Despite the addition of the VISTA and VST survey telescopes, power use has remained stable over the past few years at Paranal. As just one example, a new, more modern laser guide star was recently installed at Paranal (ann11039), effectively reducing the power consumption to less than a tenth of the old ...
ann14048 — Announcement
Final ALMA Antenna Arrives on Chajnantor Plateau
16 June 2014: The final antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project has been taken up to the high-level site at the ALMA Observatory, 5000 metres above sea level. Its arrival completes the complement of 66 ALMA antennas on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile — where they will in future work together as one giant telescope. The 66th ALMA antenna was transported to the Array Operations Site (AOS) on Friday 13 June 2014. It had been delivered to the ALMA Observatory for final testing in October 2013 (eso1342). The 12-metre diameter dish is the 25th and final European antenna to be transported up to the Chajnantor Plateau on . It will work alongside its European predecessors, as well as 25 North American 12-metre antennas and 16 East Asian (four 12-metre and twelve 7-metre) antennas. The global ALMA collaboration is the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence. The ...
ann14047 — Announcement
All ESO’s Observatories Included in Google Street View
10 June 2014: ESO's observing sites at Paranal Observatory, La Silla Observatory and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and have now been included in spectacular 360-degree panoramic views from Google's Street View, now available on Google Maps. Google Street View team visited each of ESO’s three world-class observing sites in Chile: Paranal Observatory at an altitude of 2635 metres — home to the VLT at Paranal Observatory — ESO’s flagship facility; La Silla Observatory — ESO’s first observatory on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert — 2400 metres above sea level; as well as the two ALMA sites — the ALMA Array Operations Site (AOS), high on Chajnantor Plateau at 5000 metres above sea level and the international ALMA base camp at the Operations Support Facility (OSF) at 2900 metres. Instead of the perhaps more well-known Google Street cars, Google now is able to cover such high and remote locations using what ...
ann14046 — Announcement
New App Kiwaka Features ESO Material
6 June 2014: A new iPhone and iPad app named Kiwaka has been released today. Developed by the mobile app company LANDKA, in partnership with ESO and other leading scientific organisations, it is an “edutaining” app — combining education and entertainment — fusing gaming and learning about astronomy. Kiwaka is aimed at a broad audience and displays ESO imagery to delve deeper into interesting astronomical objects. Users will be provided with links to ESO content where they can explore the cosmos further on the ESO site. As the game progresses, the user journeys amongst the stars and learns about them along the way. A star map is provided after the game showing which constellations have been traversed. Kiwaka is an innovative method of astronomy outreach. Its combination of education with entertainment inspires the user both to have fun, and learn some astronomy, through easily accessible mobile technology — whilst utilising the wealth of ...
ann14045 — Announcement
ALMA Upgrade to Image the Event Horizons of Supermassive Black Holes
4 June 2014: Scientists have carried out a major upgrade to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) by installing an ultra-precise atomic clock at ALMA’s Array Operations Site — home to ALMA’s supercomputing correlator. The current rubidium-based time reference has been replaced by a more accurate hydrogen maser. This upgrade will benefit all ALMA users and will eventually allow ALMA to synchronise with a worldwide network of radio astronomy facilities to form an Earth-sized telescope with the magnifying power required to see details at the edge of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way [2]. This corresponds to a resolving power thousands of times greater than achievable with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Before ALMA can lend its unmatched capabilities to this and similar scientific observations, however, it must first transform into a different kind of instrument known as a phased array. This new version of ALMA will allow 50 ...
ann14044 — Announcement
Spain Confirms Participation in the E-ELT
3 June 2014: On 3 June 2014, during the 131st meeting of the ESO Council, the Spanish delegation informed the Council that the Spanish Council of Ministers had approved the participation of Spain in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) supplementary programme. The Council very much welcomed the statement of the Spanish delegation and unanimously approved the participation of Spain in the E-ELT programme. The ESO Council and the ESO Executive are delighted that all ESO Member States are now in the E-ELT programme. Spain joined ESO in July 2006 and its membership was ratified by the Spanish Parliament in February 2007. Further details of the country’s extensive involvement with ESO are available here. Spain will be the fourteenth ESO Member State to join the E-ELT programme. The total investment from Spain amounts to a total of about 38 million euros. The European Extremely Large Telescope is expected to yield great advances in ...
ann14043 — Announcement
ESOcast 65: The Chilean Sky in Ultra High Definition
30 May 2014: In March and April 2014, ESO’s videographer Herbert Zodet and three ESO Photo Ambassadors: Yuri Beletsky, Christoph Malin and Babak Tafreshi embarked on the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. Their goal was to capture footage at ESO’s three observing sites in Chile using state-of-the-art Ultra HD tools [1]. This ESOcast tells their story and shows some of the spectacular results. First the team visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory, home to the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) — ESO’s flagship facility. They then drove to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — a huge new facility dedicated to studying the cool Universe. Finally, the team headed to La Silla, ESO’s first observatory. The almost perfect atmospheric conditions in each of the sites provided crystal-clear views of the night sky. The expedition team collected a wide range of content including time-lapses, stills and panoramas in Ultra HD quality that can now be demonstrated in ...
ann14042 — Announcement
Second ESO Astronomy Camp for Secondary School Students
30 May 2014: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) and its Science Outreach Network are collaborating with the science communication event organiser Sterrenlab to arrange the second ESO Astronomy Camp — Measuring the Universe. The camp will take place from 26 December 2014 to 1 January 2015 at the Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley, located in Saint-Barthelemy, Nus, Italy. Several partners, including ESO, are providing bursaries that will be awarded to the winning applicants. The camp will explore the theme of distances in astronomy through lectures, hands-on activities, and nighttime observations with the telescopes and instruments at the observatory. Social activities, winter sports, and excursions will contribute to making the camp a memorable experience for the participants. ESO will be responsible for the scientific programme for the ESO Astronomy Camp, and will provide lecturers and material together with several other partners. A registration fee of 500 euros covers full board accommodation ...
ann14041 — Announcement
Austrian Software Tools Developed for ESO
30 May 2014: As an additional part of the Austrian contribution when it joined ESO, two specialist teams from institutes in Austria have developed software tools that offer significant improvements over traditional methods. A team from the University of Innsbruck [1] has developed atmospheric correction algorithms and software methods, and at the University of Vienna [2], a team of astronomers and mathematicians has developed software for the automatic combination of data from separate astronomical observations in order to create final mosaicked products. The new atmospheric correction approach models and corrects for the influence of the Earth’s atmosphere on observational data obtained with ground-based telescopes. It saves valuable observing time whilst allowing very accurate correction —  leading to a more efficient use of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Stefan Kimeswenger from the University of Innsbruck says: “We are convinced that the daily scientific work carried out by astronomers conducting telescope observations becomes much easier ...
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