Back to ESO Outreach Community Newsletter index

ESO Outreach Community Newsletter April 2013
Dear Fellow Communicators, March was one of our busiest and most exciting months for a while (at least, since October last year when our 50th anniversary celebrations peaked). The ALMA inauguration on 13 March was an outreach opportunity that was ...

Unsubscribe | Subscription preferences | View in browser
European
Southern
Observatory
ESO Outreach Community Newsletter
April 2013

Dear Fellow Communicators,

March was one of our busiest and most exciting months for a while (at least, since October last year when our 50th anniversary celebrations peaked). The ALMA inauguration on 13 March was an outreach opportunity that was not to be missed.

The event was challenging: 500+ high-level representatives and 120+ media representatives to be hosted at two high-altitude sites; 2900 and 5000 metres above sea level. The ESO outreach team were responsible for the majority of the media present, and a good collaboration with the outreach teams of our international partners in the US, East Asia and Chile made the event a success.

Some experiences to share with you:

  • We arranged for two large office areas with power and wireless internet to be available to the journalists. The ALMA staff who normally worked there kindly left their offices (and a beautiful view out onto the desert landscape!) so the journalists were literally up and running within a minute of entering the main building.
  • The carefully planned events are not always interesting for all the journalists. We heard things like: “Actually this ALMA inauguration event is completely irrelevant to us. We just want to film some big science machines.
    The old adage of “don’t make too many assumptions about your target groups” is certainly true in this case, and with flexibility in the planning all works well.
  • A detailed schedule of the interviews, agreed in advance with the media and the high-level people and scientists they wanted to interview, is a must. In this case we had our large Google spreadsheets printed as a giant wall poster to enable easy updating with old-fashioned pens (yes, we still use pens and paper on occasion ;) !)
  • At 3000 metres everyone was a bit “slower” than at sea level. The effects were noticeably less from Day 3 onwards. And at 5000 metres the lack of oxygen makes for a rather surreal and, at times, “nebulous” experience. Don’t expect to be able to operate your cameras without making smaller or larger mistakes ("oh, did I accidentally have the autofocus switched off all the time? :o ")! And don’t expect your usual balanced decision-making to be in effect. Lean back, relax, take it all in and follow your carefully planned schedule at the ALMA high site. At least until the schedule changes due to the challenging logistics and the unavoidable, and usually innocuous, cases of “breathless ALMA visitor syndrome”...
  • Safety first! Getting hundreds of people through the mandatory ALMA safety checks to go to 5000 metres was one of the really interesting challenges. Some 10-15% are expected not to pass, and of the ones that pass, some will still need a bit of loving attention (and oxygen) from an ALMA paramedic. The procedures however worked — no major problems were encountered.
  • Speaking of challenging logistics: having large groups of visitors scattered over many hotels in the picturesque desert town of San Pedro de Atacama involves some pretty hairy logistics. No evening was spent without reviewing bus schedules, pick-up points and staff movements. And a note to self: not all busses drive equally well up to 5000 metres despite assurances from the supplier...

During the event, we also kept our communities informed via live tweets. The #ALMAlive hashtag was trending in Chile. Several high-level Twitter accounts also joined the conversation using our official hashtag: @EU_ScienceChief (Prof. Anne Glover), @UEenChile (Delegación de la Unión Europea en Chile), @sebastianpinera (President of Chile), @xbarcons (President of the ESO Council). In parallel, the ALMA Red Alert photo by ESO Photo Ambassador Christoph Malin went viral on Flickr, and in minutes amassed more than 3000 views and hundreds of people adding it as a favourite. Even Flickr tweeted about the photo.

If you missed the events, you can watch the recorded broadcast of the Inauguration Ceremony here. You will see a connection with the International Space Station and the live command by President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera to point ALMA to the centre of our galaxy!

Starting on the day after the Inauguration, from 14 to 16 March, ESO welcomed several high-level visits at the Paranal Observatory, six hours drive from ALMA: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Denmark, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess, Danish Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal, the Federal Minister for Science and Research of Austria, Karlheinz Töchterle and the Portuguese Minister of Education and Science, Nuno Crato, and the Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission, Prof. Anne Glover.

At night, the visitors took part in informal star parties with staff from the observatory, enjoying the view of some objects in the southern night sky through a 0.5-metre (!) amateur telescope. This picture captures the observing activities against the spectacular night sky of Paranal. I cannot imagine a more exciting observing experience than this. Spectacular views of Omega Centauri’s glittering jewels, the cloud bands and moons of Saturn, and the wings of the Orion Nebula in cyan-green colours. A week of breathtaking experiences ...

Let’s reach new heights in astronomy together,

Lars Lindberg Christensen (lars@eso.org)
Head, ESO education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD)




  ESO Announcements


Fernando Comerón becomes ESO Representative in Chile

2 April 2013: Yesterday, 1 April 2013, European Southern Observatory (ESO) astronomer Fernando Comerón became ESO’s new Representative in Chile. He replaces Massimo Tarenghi, who has been ESO Representative since 2008. “I’d like ...

Read more

2013 Tycho Brahe Prize Awarded to Massimo Tarenghi

19 March 2013: The European Astronomical Society has awarded the 2013 Tycho Brahe Prize to Massimo Tarenghi, in recognition of his central role in the development of the European Southern Observatory facilities that ...

Read more

Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission visits ESO’s Paranal Observatory — Anne Glover visited the observatory after attending the inauguration of ALMA

18 March 2013: On 16 March 2013, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission, Prof. Anne Glover, visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory. Upon arriving, she was welcomed by ESO’s Director General, Prof. Tim ...

Read more

Austrian and Portuguese Ministers Visit ESO’s Paranal Observatory

18 March 2013: The Federal Minister for Science and Research of Austria, Karlheinz Töchterle and the Portuguese Minister of Education and Science, Nuno Crato, visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory on 15 March 2013, as part ...

Read more

The ALMA Inauguration Video News Release and ESOcast

14 March 2013: On 13 March 2013, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory was formally inaugurated during an official ceremony held at the ALMA site on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean ...

Read more

Share this newsletter on:

*|FACEBOOK:LIKE|*   *|TWITTER:TWEET|*   *|GOOGLE:BUZZ|*
*|MC:SHARE|*


 ESO Press Releases




New on eso.org




Upcoming Events

 
Stars Circle over the Residencia at Cerro Paranal  The Lost Galaxy  Catching Light 

You are receiving this newsletter because you subscribed to ESO Outreach Community Newsletter.

Unsubscribe | Subscription preferences | View in browser

Follow us on:

Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Vimeo

European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str 2, D-85748 Garching bei München, Germany