Press Releases

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eso9814 — Organisation Release
Optical Alignment Tests Start at the VLT UT1
27 April 1998: Following the successful installation of the 8.2-m Zerodur main mirror at the first of the four Unit Telescopes (UT1) of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) on April 16, work now continues on the optical alignment of the complex system.
eso9813 — Organisation Release
World's Largest Mirror Installed on First VLT Unit Telescope
17 April 1998: The world's largest optical mirror - with 8.2-m diameter and a surface of more than 50 m 2 , polished to the highest perfection - was today put in place at the First VLT Unit Telescope (UT1) at the Paranal Observatory.
eso9812 — Organisation Release
Secondary Mirror Unit in Place on First VLT 8.2-m Unit Telescope
24 March 1998: The assembly work on the first VLT 8.2-m Unit Telescope (UT1) at Paranal is now entering the final phases. The excellent progress continues and the project is on schedule for the First Light Event in late May.
eso9811 — Organisation Release
ESO and Fokker Space Sign Contract about VLTI Delay Line
11 March 1998: The European Southern Observatory is building the world's largest optical telescope, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) , at the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VLT consists of four 8.2-m unit telescopes and several smaller, moveable Auxiliary Telescopes. When coupled as the giant VLT Interferometer (VLTI) , they will together provide the sharpest images ever obtained by any optical telescope. It will in principle be able to see an astronaut on the surface of the Moon, 400,000 km away.
eso9810 — Organisation Release
Another Job Well Done at Paranal
10 March 1998: The VLT assembly work at the ESO Paranal Observatory continues in great strides. During the past week, the mirror cell for the 8.2-m main mirror (the M1 cell ) was successfully attached to the bottom of the telescope tube of Unit Telescope 1 (UT1). The present `picture story' illustrates the various phases of this delicate operation.
eso9809 — Organisation Release
Getting ISAAC Ready for the VLT
5 March 1998: We continue the publication of video clips which illustrate the rapid progress of the VLT project. The present footage of the ISAAC (Infrared Spectrometer and Array Camera) instrument for the ESO Very Large Telescope was obtained last week by the ESO EPR Video Team at the ESO Headquarters in Garching.
eso9808 — Organisation Release
Tests of FORS - the First Major VLT Instrument
3 March 1998: We continue the publication of video clips which illustrate the rapid progress of the VLT project. The present footage of the FORS (FOcal Reducer/low dispersion Spectrograph) instrument for the ESO Very Large Telescope was obtained by the ESO EPR Video Team during a recent mission to DLR (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.) in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich (Germany).
eso9807 — Organisation Release
Pointing the First 8.2-m VLT Telescope
17 February 1998: Now that the big mechanical pieces of the first 8.2-metre unit telescope (UT1) of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have been assembled, the work areas have shifted towards the many other components that are needed to make the first giant optical telescope in the southern hemisphere operational. Although most of these items may be of less impressive dimensions, they are equally indispensable to make a telescope of this size and weight point towards a given direction and follow the motion of the celestial objects to be observed with superior accuracy.
eso9806 — Photo Release
The Unusual Tails of Comet Hale-Bopp
30 January 1998: While famous Comet Hale-Bopp continues its long voyage towards the outer reaches of the solar system, observations proceed with telescopes in the southern hemisphere. These research programmes aim at a better understanding of the further development of this very active comet as it moves away from the Sun and slowly cools. Among the key questions are for instance: "When will it cease to display a dust tail?" and "Will the nucleus undergo outbursts during which much fresh material will be dispensed into space, as this has occasionally happened by other comets (e.g. Halley)?"
eso9805 — Organisation Release
Entering SOFI's Wonderful World
29 January 1998: SOFI, ESO's new infrared imager/spectrometer, saw first light at the NTT telescope on December 6, 1997, as planned and less than two years after the start of its detailed design. The acronym stands for 'Son OF ISAAC', the larger Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera being built by ESO for the VLT.
eso9804 — Organisation Release
High-resolution Photos from the Paranal Observatory
23 January 1998: We show here five high-resolution photographic images (4-6 Mbytes) from the ESO Paranal Observatory, the site of ESO's Very Large Telescope Array (VLT).
eso9803 — Organisation Release
22 January 1998: This spring, teachers across Europe will enjoy support for exciting, novel educational projects on astronomy, navigation and environmental observations. The largely web-based and highly interactive SEA & SPACE programme makes it possible for pupils to perform field experiments and astronomical observations and to obtain and process satellite images. A contest will take the best pupils for one week to Lisbon (Portugal), to Europe's space port in Kourou (French Guyana) where the European launcher lifts off or to ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Cerro Paranal Observatory in Chile, the largest optical telescope in the world.
eso9802 — Organisation Release
Flight above the VLT Paranal Observatory
16 January 1998: We continue the publication of video clips from the Paranal Observatory by showing aerial scenes of the VLT site and an overall view of Unit Telescope 1 in its enclosure. The footage was obtained by the ESO EPR Video Team during a recent mission.
eso9801 — Organisation Release
13 January 1998: Within a few months, the first 8.2-meter Unit Telescope of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) array will open its eye towards the sky above the Atacama desert. As documented by recent Press Photos from ESO, the construction work at the Paranal VLT Observatory is proceeding rapidly. Virtually all of the telescope components, including the giant Zerodur mirror, are now on the mountain.
eso9734 — Organisation Release
VLT Mirror Transport
22 December 1997: We publish here as first examples three clips from the transport of the first VLT 8.2-m Zerodur mirror (M1) from the port of Antofagasta to the Paranal Observatory, as obtained by the ESO EPR Video Team.
eso9733 — Organisation Release
High-resolution Images from the M1 Transport
19 December 1997: The present collection of twelve high-resolution photographic images illustrates the transport of the first VLT 8.2-m Zerodur mirror (M1) to Paranal. They are suitable for high-quality reproduction and complement the digital, less detailed ESO Press Photos 33a-f/97 which were published one week ago with information about this important event.
eso9732 — Organisation Release
First M2-Unit and Beryllium Mirror Delivered to ESO
12 December 1997: Just as the first 8.2-metre Zerodur VLT primary mirror (M1) is arriving at the Paranal Observatory, there are also good news about the first of the 1.2-m Beryllium VLT secondary mirrors (M2) and its Supporting Unit . This assembly is placed at the top of the VLT 'telescope tube'.
eso9731 — Organisation Release
First VLT 8.2-m Zerodur Mirror Arrives at Paranal Observatory
12 December 1997: Another historic event in ESO's Very Large Telescope Project has just occurred. The first giant mirror is on the mountain! The blanks for the four 8.2-metre VLT mirrors of Zerodur were produced by the Schott Glaswerke (Mainz, Germany) and have been polished at the REOSC factory (St. Pierre du Perray, France). For more information, see ESO Press Release 15/95. The first of the four mirrors left France in early November 1997 en route to Paranal. The transport was organized by the Gondrand company.
eso9730 — Organisation Release
Final Tests of the VLT Main Telescope Structure in Milan
2 December 1997: The main structure of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) has been designed, produced and assembled by an Italian consortium composed of Ansaldo Energia (Genova), European Industrial Engineering (Venice) and SOIMI (Milan). A total of four identical structures have been built, one for each of the four VLT 8.2-m Unit Telescopes.
eso9729 — Science Release
Comet or Asteroid?
24 November 1997: When is a minor object in the solar system a comet? And when is it an asteroid? Until recently, there was little doubt. Any object that was found to display a tail or appeared diffuse was a comet of ice and dust grains, and any that didn't, was an asteroid of solid rock. Moreover, comets normally move in rather elongated orbits, while most asteroids follow near-circular orbits close to the main plane of the solar system in which the major planets move.