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ann12085 — Announcement
ESOcast 50: Chile Chill 1
15 November 2012: This episode of the ESOcast introduces a new type of ESOcasts called “Chile Chill”. These ESOcasts offer a calm experience of the Chilean night sky and ESO’s observatory sites, undisturbed by facts or narration. In this episode we follow a typical night of observing for ESO’s telescopes. Set to instrumental music composed by John Stanford (, it includes panoramic shots of the night sky viewed from ESO’s sites in Chile, interspersed with shots of the stark surrounding landscape and the astronomical facilities that have been built there. The video shows dramatically how Chile has some of the best skies on our planet for astronomy and allows us to gaze at a spectacularly clear dark sky full of stars. As the Sun sets and day fades into night, starlight rains down on the ESO telescopes and their domes slide open in preparation for a night of observing. The ESOcast shows breathtaking ...
ann12084 — Announcement
Pierre Cox Appointed as New ALMA Director
14 November 2012: The ALMA Board announced today, 14 November 2012, that Pierre Cox has been appointed as the next Director of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Cox will take up duty on 1 April 2013, for a period of five years, at the end of Thijs de Graauw’s term as ALMA Director. Thijs de Graauw, who has been the ALMA Director since 2008, has taken the observatory past many milestones in his five-year term, including the start of its science observations, in 2011 (see eso1137). Cox has been the Director of IRAM (Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique) since 2006. IRAM operates the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI) near Grenoble, France, and its 30-metre telescope on Pico Veleta, Spain — both telescopes observing at millimetre-wavelengths — on behalf of its three partners: the German Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG), the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Spanish Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN). Pierre ...
ann12082 — Announcement
A Digital Highway to ALMA
13 November 2012: New network infrastructure that will allow the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) observatory to increase its data transmission capacity by more than 25 times begins construction today. A contract between Associated Universities Inc. (AUI), on behalf of ALMA [1], and two Chilean companies: Silica Networks Chile S.A. and Telefónica Empresas Chile S.A. has been signed. "This long-term structural solution not only has the advantage of being able to convey much more data, it could also allow us to operate some of the observatory activities from Santiago," says Jorge Ibsen, Head of the ALMA Department of Computing. The new system involves the installation of about 150 kilometres of fibre optic cable between the observatory (34 kilometres from San Pedro de Atacama) and the town of Calama. From there data will flow via existing communication links to the academic network REUNA in Antofagasta. The link from there to the ALMA offices in ...
ann12083 — Announcement
New 2012 ALMA Video Compilation Released
13 November 2012: A new video compilation of freshly filmed footage of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is now available. Under construction on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes, ALMA is a revolutionary observatory, designed to study some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. When construction is completed in 2013, ALMA will have a total of 66 state-of-the-art antennas, but the telescope is already making scientific observations with a partial array of antennas. The footage, filmed in October 2012, includes the spectacular synchronised movements of the antennas at the Array Operations Site (AOS), 5000 metres above sea level. There are also several scenes of engineers at work in the AOS Technical Building, for example working on the ALMA correlator, as well as at the Operations Support Facility (OSF), at an altitude of 2900 metres. Additional footage of the OSF includes astronomers operating the telescope. Stunning sunsets and ...
ann12081 — Announcement
ESO Hosts Launch of the Book Vistas de la Galaxia
9 November 2012: Today, at ESO’s premises in Santiago, the European Southern Observatory and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile launched the book Vistas de la Galaxia (Vistas of the Galaxy), by astronomers Dante Minniti, Joyce Pullen and Ignacio Toledo. Vistas de la Galaxia tells the story of an ambitious astronomical project and the people behind the amazing discoveries of a three-year trip through the Universe using ESO’s 4.1-metre Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), the world’s largest survey telescope. The book describes in depth a series of discoveries that have been made with VISTA in recent years. These include more than 100 new star clusters (eso1128, eso1141), novae and over 300 new distant galaxies, among many others. Recently an international team of astronomers, including the lead author of the new book, has also used VISTA to create a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central region of ...
ann12080 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 13 November 2012
9 November 2012: with Dr. Eckhard Sturm (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics) With the Herschel Space Telescope, astronomers can now observe the Universe in a new light, the far infrared. Thanks to its longer wavelength, this radiation can penetrate clouds of gas and dust which absorb the regular, visible light. Also, colder celestial objects, otherwise invisible, become directly observable as they emit infrared light. Using Herschel, astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have discovered huge clouds of molecular gas roiling in the centre of many galaxies. Their winds rage at over one thousand kilometres per second, much fiercely than the most powerful hurricanes on Earth, which peak at only 250 kilometres per hour. These mega-storms are strong enough to blow away the entire gas supply of a galaxy. They can even stop the formation of stars, and halt the growth of the black hole in the centre of their ...
ann12079 — Announcement
Massimo Tarenghi honoured by Chilean Senate
8 November 2012: On 31 October 2012, the Chilean Senate unanimously voted to grant Chilean nationality by special grace to Massimo Tarenghi, Representative in Chile of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in recognition of his great contribution to the development of astronomy in Europe and Chile. This is the first time that a representative of an international organisation has been granted this honour. During the session, Senator Guido Girardi highlighted the work done by Tarenghi in Chile since 1976, first as an astronomer and then as an ESO staff member working on the construction of ESO’s telescopes in the north of the country. The senator stressed the valuable contribution of Tarenghi in the development and construction of the New Technology Telescope (NTT) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio observatory, of which ESO is the European partner, near ...
ann12078 — Announcement
Now Available: ESO Calendar 2013
2 November 2012: Building on the success of past years, ESO has produced a 2013 edition of the ESO Calendar. This was one of ESO’s most appreciated print products in the past and the new edition is now available as a free PDF file for download, or for sale in the ESOshop. Each month showcases one of ESO’s best vistas of the southern sky from 2012. These also include impressive images of ESO’s numerous telescopes, silhouetted against the remote Chilean landscape, that are guaranteed to catch the eye of visitors. Each image resembles a piece of art, contrasting the natural environment that surrounds ESO’s sites in Chile with the human-built observatories and telescopes used to scrutinise the heavens. The calendar’s highlights include the picture for the month of September, which features the beautiful cosmic bubble of the Thor’s Helmet Nebula — a target that was selected and observed by members of the public ...
ann12077 — Announcement
ESO Releases The Messenger No. 149
25 October 2012: 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: A report on the calibration of HARPS at the exo-Earth detection limit. An update of the progress made in the construction of the second generation VLT instrument SPHERE (the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument). An article about new surprises in old stellar clusters. First results from an ALMA survey of submillimetre Galaxies. A report on the mm-VLBI (Very-long-baseline interferometry) meeting on 27 June 2012. Download The Messenger in PDF format or visit The Messenger website to subscribe and receive a free printed copy.
ann12076 — Announcement
Lichtmond meets Alan Parsons at Paranal
24 October 2012: In 2010, German recording artists Lichtmond released their flagship multimedia album Moonlight, a soundtrack of pop songs and love poems played to a backdrop of 3D fantasy imagery and animations. Recently they have released a follow-up to this work in the form of a new project, Lichtmond 2: Universe of Light. The band, who reside in Neufahrn, a village close to ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, once again pushed the boundaries of visual and audio technologies to the limit, creating an amazing world of 3D animations to accompany advanced (5.1 and 7.1) surround-sound audio. Universe of Light describes a fantasy world in which a second sun is born, followed by the evolution of light on “Earth 2”, a planet much like our own. ESO’s participation in this project began one year ago in Chile, when legendary British producer Alan Parsons (The Alan Parsons Project/Pink Floyd/The Beatles) was invited for an ...
ann12075 — Announcement
Awesome Universe Exhibition Catalogue: Now Available
19 October 2012: Awesome Universe — the Cosmos through the eyes of the European Southern Observatory is a series of public exhibitions celebrating 50 years of Europe’s quest to explore the southern sky. The catalogue for the exhibition is now available to purchase from the ESO shop, or to download as a PDF. Awesome Universe is presented internationally in cooperation with ESO’s partners in Europe and around the world. Visitors to the exhibitions will discover stunning images that showcase celestial objects as seen by ESO’s observatories, including galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. In addition there are beautiful images of the observatories themselves, which are located in some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth. The catalogue beautifully presents all 50 images from the exhibition on full-colour double-page spreads, with explanatory text describing the images.
ann12074 — Announcement
Belgium Confirms E-ELT Commitment
19 October 2012: Representatives of Belgium have confirmed that their country will participate fully in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) programme. Their commitment was announced at a recent meeting at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching, Germany. Seven ESO Member States have now approved their full participation in the E-ELT programme. At the last full meeting of the ESO Council, in June, Belgium was one of the four countries that voted in favour ad referendum, meaning subject to confirmation. The other three ad referendum votes were from Finland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The remaining four ESO Member States are also actively working towards joining the programme in the near future. Construction of the E-ELT is expected to start in 2013, with first light to come early in the next decade.
ann12073 — Announcement
ESOcast 49: On Air
17 October 2012: This exciting episode of the ESOcast gives viewers an exclusive backstage pass to see what went on behind the scenes while filming the ESO live webcast “A Day in the Life of ESO”. The webcast aired on the exact date of ESO’s 50th Anniversary, 5th October 2012, and lasted for 6 hours. It included talks from astronomers and engineers from ESO’s headquarters in Garching, Germany, as well as a live link to Paranal, Chile, where Brigitte Bailleul, winner of the “Tweet your way to the VLT” competition, was preparing to be the first member of the general public to make an observation using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). ESOcast 49 examines the events of the day and also includes footage taken behind the scenes both at Garching as well as Paranal. The episode captures the suspense and excitement of coordinating a live event on different sides on the Earth as ...
ann12072 — Announcement
Media Advisory: Virtual Press Conference to Announce Major Exoplanet Discovery
15 October 2012: European astronomers have used facilities at ESO’s La Silla Observatory to discover a remarkable exoplanet. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012. ESO will hold an online press conference to announce the results and assess their impact, offering journalists the opportunity to discuss with the scientists. The conference will take place on Tuesday 16 October 2012 at 16:00 CEST. To participate in the conference and receive additional material under embargo, bona-fide members of the media must get accredited by contacting Richard Hook by email ( Journalists must clearly state in the email that they agree to honour the embargo and will not publish or discuss the research until after 19:00 (CEST) on Wednesday 17 October 2012. Reporters will need access to a computer with a recent version of Adobe Flash Player installed and an adequately fast internet connection. Further information will be provided to ...
ann12071 — Announcement
Powerful New VLT Instrument Arrives in Chile
11 October 2012: A new infrared instrument for ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) with 24 robotic arms has crossed the Atlantic from Edinburgh in the United Kingdom to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. When installed later in the year it will address, in more detail than ever before, some of the key questions surrounding the formation and evolution of galaxies. KMOS (K-Band Multi Object Spectrometer) has been provisionally accepted by ESO after it had completed final assembly and testing at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) in Edinburgh. It will now be fitted to Unit Telescope 1, one of the four telescopes that make up the VLT, and will provide astronomers with a far quicker way to uncover details about galaxies and their properties. KMOS is unique in its ability to image many galaxies simultaneously, either in a cluster or in isolation, but in both cases to also map out the ...
ann12070 — Announcement
Europe to the Stars Movie Available Now
4 October 2012: The highly anticipated Europe to the Stars documentary is now available for free download and purchase. The movie celebrates ESO’s first 50 years exploring the southern sky.It all began in 1962 with the signing of the ESO convention — the culmination of the dream of leading astronomers from five European countries, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Fifty years later, these original dreams have become reality thanks to ESO’s commitment to the mission.Europe to the Stars portrays the story of this epic adventure — a story of cosmic curiosity, courage and perseverance. The story of discovering a Universe of deep mysteries and hidden secrets, and the story of designing, building and operating the most powerful ground-based telescopes on the planet. The documentary movie consists of eight chapters [1], each focusing on essential aspects of ESO’s history. From ESO’s birth to explaining how telescopes are built and used, Europe to ...
ann12069 — Announcement
ESOcast 48: Building Big
2 October 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. The eighth and final episode of this series relates how ESO — based on experience gathered over the past fifty years as the most powerful observatory in history — is going to satisfy the eternal longing of astronomers: the construction of even bigger telescopes. The first of ESO’s next generation telescopes is almost finished on the Chajnantor Plateau. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array (ALMA), a joint project of Europe, North America and Asia, will be composed of 66 high-precision antennas when it becomes fully operational in 2013. Acting together as a giant telescope, ALMA will reveal the finest details of the cool Universe, spotting the birth of the first galaxies and peeking inside the dusty ...
ann12068 — Announcement
German Federal Minister for Education and Research Visits Paranal
1 October 2012: The Federal Minister for Education and Research in Germany, Annette Schavan, made a special visit to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile on 29–30 September 2012. The Minister and her delegation were hosted by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, the Director of Operations at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, Andreas Kaufer, and the Representative of ESO in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi. The delegation accompanying Minister Schavan included a State Minister, members of the German Parliament as well as senior representatives of German research organisations and universities. After a short presentation from ESO, Minister Schavan was given a tour of the Paranal base camp facilities, which include the award-winning Paranal Residencia, a unique building designed by the German architects Auer+Weber+Assoziierte, and which provides accommodation for astronomers, engineers, support staff and visitors staying at the observatory. The Minister then enjoyed a spectacular sunset, viewed from the platform of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) ...
ann12067 — Announcement
6-Hour Webcast with Live Very Large Telescope Observations for ESO’s 50th Anniversary
28 September 2012: On 5 October 2012, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will broadcast A Day in the Life of ESO, a free, live event on the web, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations. There will be live observations from ESO’s flagship observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT), on Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert, as well as fascinating talks from astronomers at ESO’s Headquarters in Germany. Members of the public are invited to ask questions in advance of the event, or during the stream, by Facebook, Twitter, and email. A timetable for the webcast is available below and online. For the first time in ESO’s history, the VLT will be pointed towards an object in the sky selected by members of the public — the Thor’s Helmet Nebula (NGC 2359). This striking nebula was selected as part of the Choose What the VLT Observes competition. Brigitte Bailleul, from France, won the ...
ann12066 — Announcement
ESO Releases The Jewel on the Mountaintop
28 September 2012: ESO’s brand-new history book, The Jewel on the Mountaintop — The European Southern Observatory through Fifty Years, is a comprehensive account of the observatory, as well as a truly remarkable success story for European research. It is available for purchase in hardcover format from Wiley-VCH. Produced for ESO's 50th anniversary, The Jewel on the Mountaintop provides a deep insight into ESO’s history as told by the people who have made it what it is today. It tells of the battles fought, the mountains climbed and the hurdles overcome in order to obtain a better understanding of the Universe of which we are a part. The author, senior ESO adviser Claus Madsen, carried out extensive interviews with key players, from both inside and outside the organisation to allow him to accurately portray the evolution and significance of the organisation and its achievements. The book is divided into four sections, entitled Catching ...