eso1224 — Organisation Release
King of Spain Visits ESO’s Paranal Observatory
7 June 2012
On Wednesday 6 June His Majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory, where he met with the Presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as other senior representatives present at Paranal for the Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance.
The King of Spain arrived on Wednesday 6 June at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, where he was received by the President of the ESO Council, Xavier Barcons, the Director General of ESO, Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, and the Director of the Observatory, Andreas Kaufer.
“We are delighted to welcome His Majesty to Paranal and offer him our hospitality, here in the middle of the Chilean Atacama Desert,” said Tim de Zeeuw.
In this desert location — one of the driest in the world, and with an altitude of 2600 metres — Paranal is one of the best places on Earth to conduct scientific observations of the Universe. With the four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes and four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes of the ESO Very Large Telescope, and the VST and VISTA survey telescopes, Paranal is the most productive ground-based astronomical observatory in the world.
The King had lunch with the Presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as other senior representatives from Costa Rica, Panama, Canada, Japan and Australia, who had just concluded the Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance, which took place at Paranal (see eso1223 for more information about the summit).
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo, who was part of the King’s delegation, also met with Xavier Barcons, to briefly discuss the role of Spain within ESO.
The King came to Paranal on the last day of his official visit to South America, in which he visited Brazil and Chile, before returning to Spain.
In the last few months, several members of royal families have visited the Paranal Observatory and enjoyed its dark skies, including the Prince of Asturias, son of Juan Carlos I, and Prince Philippe of Belgium. It is however the first time a reigning monarch has visited the observatory since its inauguration.
The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning a 40-metre-class European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.
- ESO press release about the presidential visit for the Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance
- Information about ESO and Spain
Lars Lindberg Christensen
ESO education and Public Outreach Department
Garching bei München, Germany
ESO Representative in Chile
Tel: +56 2 463 3143