Announcements 2010

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ann1042-en-gb — Announcement
Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize 2010 goes to Professor Michel Mayor and two team members
20 July 2010: Three astronomers have been awarded the Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize 2010 for their outstanding contributions in the field of planetary systems and their host stars, in which observations with ESO telescopes have played a major role. The 2010 winners of the Prize are Professor Michel Mayor from the University of Geneva and two of his team members, Dr Garik Israelian from the Astrophysical Institute of Canary Islands (IAC) and Dr Nuno Santos from the Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto (CAUP), nominated by the Swiss Academy of Sciences. The Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize was established by the President of Armenia in 2009 and is one of the most important awards in astronomy/astrophysics and related sciences. It is awarded to outstanding scientists from any country and nationality who make significant contributions to science. The Prize totals US$ 500 000 and will be awarded once every two years, starting in 2010. ...
ann1041-en-gb — Announcement
VLT VISTA Compilation Released
16 July 2010: A video compilation of footage of VISTA — the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy — is now available. VISTA is the newest telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile and the world’s largest survey telescope working at near-infrared wavelengths. Its large mirror, wide field of view and very sensitive detectors reveal a completely new view of the southern sky. This video compilation shows the VISTA telescope as seen from different distances and angles. The footage includes outdoor sequences of VISTA as well as indoor shots. Further material shows the telescope as it rotates and astronomers performing night observations.
ann1040-en-gb — Announcement
ESOcast 19: Photographers of the Night
15 July 2010: Behind the scenes at Paranal Observatory, some dedicated members of the ESO staff spend their own time photographing the skies above the observatory, taking advantage of the same conditions — the clear skies, and low light pollution — that make Cerro Paranal an ideal site for the world’s most advanced telescopes. To give you an insight into astrophotography, ESO has just issued a new video podcast entitled “Photographers of the Night” that looks at the art of capturing images of the sky, illustrated by the work of three ESO employees, who are passionate photographers, and who brave the cold nights to take breathtaking snapshots of the sky with their digital cameras and telescopes. The video is available in various formats, including HD, and can be watched at or downloaded from iTunes.
ann1039-en-gb — Announcement
New Very Large Telescope Video Compilation released
14 July 2010: A new video compilation of footage of ESO’s Very Large Telescope array (VLT) is available. The VLT, on Cerro Paranal in Chile, is the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. It is the world's most advanced optical telescope, consisting of four Unit Telescopes with main mirrors of 8.2 m diameter and four movable 1.8 m diameter Auxiliary Telescopes. This video compilation shows the VLT observatory as seen from different distances and angles. The footage, obtained in early 2009, includes indoor sequences from one of the VLT 8.2 m unit Telescopes as well as shots of the Auxiliary Telescopes. Further material shows some of the VLT’s suite of advanced astronomical instruments, as well as the Paranal Residencia, where the observatory staff and visiting astronomers live when working on the site.
ann1038-en-gb — Announcement
ESO Director General meets the President of Chile
7 July 2010: On 6 July 2010 the Chilean President Sebastián Piñera received the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, at the Palacio La Moneda, in Santiago, to discuss the selection of Cerro Armazones in Chile, as the home of the future 42-m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Moreno, Ambassador Gabriel Rodríguez from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ESO Representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, also attended. On the previous day, the Minister of National Assets, Catalina Parot, invited the ESO Director General for a lunch to discuss the implementation of the offer made by the Chilean Government to transfer to ESO a substantial tract of land contiguous to ESO’s Paranal property, containing Armazones, in order to ensure the continued protection of the site against all adverse influences, in particular light pollution and mining activities. Cerro Armazones is an isolated mountain at 3060 metres altitude ...
ann1037-en-gb — Announcement
New Mode for VLT's NACO to Image Exoplanets
6 July 2010: An international collaboration of astronomers has recently commissioned a new observing mode for the NACO adaptive optics instrument attached to ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Paranal. The new capability counteracts the effects of diffraction of light very close to a bright star, enabling astronomers to see very faint nearby objects. The prime example of the kind of objects that can be searched for with the new VLT observing mode, called the Apodising Phase Plate (APP), are Jupiter-like gas giant planets that could be lurking around Sun-like stars in our galaxy. The new mode enables astronomers to search for planets closer to the star than has been previously possible. As a demonstration of the power of the APP technique, a team led by Matthew Kenworthy, Sascha Quanz, and Michael Meyer have confirmed the recent detection of the giant exoplanet around the star Beta Pictoris (eso1024; led by A.-M. Lagrange, Grenoble), ...
ann1036-en-gb — Announcement
E-ELT opens for business - in virtual reality
30 June 2010: A breathtaking 3D light show in Linz, Austria gives audiences a virtual tour of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), before construction work has even begun in Chile. Lucky viewers can gain a sneak preview of what astronomers can hope to see once the planned observatory is up and running in 2018. The E-ELT will be the world’s biggest optical telescope and will peer deeper into the depths of space than any before it. Audience members at Ars Electronica, a “museum of the future” that focuses on the interplay of technology and art, are even suspended just above the telescope’s colossal 42-metre primary mirror. In reality, this viewpoint will be impossible without risking grave damage to the fragile reflective surface. They are also told of the amazing power of the E-ELT to see smaller and fainter objects than ever before, and how its revolutionary potential could be as great as ...
ann1035-en-gb — Announcement
New Presentation on ESO's Top 10 Science Discoveries Available
30 June 2010: What are the hottest science topics from the most productive observatory in the world? Find out in the new slide presentation “Top 10 Discoveries by ESO Telescopes”, now available online. From the many impressive discoveries based on data taken by ESO telescopes, this presentation introduces ten that have been selected as the most remarkable so far, based on their scientific relevance and implications. The presentation consists of 38 slides with explanations, impressive images, and links to related information on the ESO website. This product, designed for the non-specialist, will be particularly useful for educators or anyone who needs to give a presentation on this topic.
ann1034-en-gb — Announcement
ESO releases The Messenger No. 140
30 June 2010: ESO has just published issue 140 of its quarterly journal, The Messenger. This issue features a range of articles including: A roundup of proposed instruments for the planned E-ELT; An in-depth look at the FORS instruments on the VLT on the occasion of their double 10th anniversary; Updates on new advances in adaptive optics; How astronomers are using the CRIRES spectrograph on the VLT to search for exoplanets orbiting very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs; and Wolf-Rayet stars and the search for the origins of gamma ray bursts. The issue also details how ESO staff in Chile helped with humanitarian aid in the aftermath of February’s earthquake.
ann1033-en-gb — Announcement
All Eyes on E-ELT in UK Exhibition
28 June 2010: During the summer, in the UK, an exhibition including two innovative videos is showcasing inspirational plans to build the largest visible-light telescope in the world — the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). “Designing a Giant Eye on the Sky” is an exhibit at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition, part of See Further: The Festival of Science + Arts at the Southbank Centre in London. The exhibit features an innovative dance video “Get the Hex”. The film project involves students from The Royal High School in Edinburgh working with filmmaker and dance choreographer team Craig and Joanne Thomson to create a piece representing the science behind the mirror in the giant telescope. Tom Bacciarelli, who teaches at The Royal High School, says: “In the film, 60 of our students dance with silver hexagonal umbrellas to portray the giant mirror, Earth-like planets and galaxies. I hope other schools will be inspired ...
ann1032-en-gb — Announcement
"Nostalgia de la Luz" playing at Filmfest München
28 June 2010: One of the movies featured at this year’s Filmfest München, taking place between 25 June and 3 July 2010, is “Nostalgia for the Light” (“Nostalgia de la Luz”). Directed by Patricio Guzmán, the movie is set in Chile, and ESO’s Paranal Observatory is one of the locations featured. Here, at almost 3000 m altitude, astronomers observe the stars with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and make new discoveries about the Universe. Furthermore, in the same area of the Atacama Desert, the environmental conditions preserve human remains, including mummies, explorers, and also those of people who disappeared during the past dictatorial regime. Here, the movie follows a group of women who are digging through the desert soil in search of their disappeared relatives.
ann1031-en-gb — Announcement
ESO at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation
25 June 2010: ESO astronomers and engineers are attending and presenting results at the international SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation symposium in San Diego, California, USA, from 27 June to 2 July, at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. ESO will also present its projects in a sold-out exhibition, in which more than 70 companies are taking part. The meeting, with more than 2000 expected participants, is the most prestigious gathering of astronomical instrumentation experts in the world. Roberto Gilmozzi, Principal Investigator for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project at ESO, will give a plenary talk on goals for the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes, ranging from the quest for Earth-like exoplanets to the detailed study of the first objects in the Universe. Mark Casali, Head of ESO’s Instrumentation Division, is one of the symposium co-chairs. Thanks to great technological developments, the latest astronomical telescopes and instruments are giving ...
ann1030-en-gb — Announcement
European Commission and EIROforum pledge to extend collaboration
24 June 2010: Garching, 24 June 2010 — In a Statement of Intent signed today at the offices of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching, Germany, the European Commission (EC) and the members of EIROforum, including ESO, formalise their desire to maintain and further develop their cooperation, for the benefit of European science. In signing this statement, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Iain Mattaj, Chairman of EIROforum and Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), as well as the Directors General or equivalent of the other EIROforum members, agree to cooperate to further European research in general, and the European Research Area in particular. “As leaders in our fields of scientific research we play an active role, every day, in turning the European Research Area into a reality. At EIROforum we therefore have considerable experience and expertise, which we will strive to make available to ...
ann1029-en-gb — Announcement
Black Holes – press kit
24 June 2010: A press kit about black holes is now available for download in PDF format. The guide gives a concise and accessible explanation of what black holes are, why they are interesting, the latest on black hole research from ESO — and why scientists say they have “no hair”. It explains: How black holes were discovered; Why they exist; What scientists know about them today; and How a supermassive black hole lies at the heart of our own galaxy. The press kit is available in English, and features a full list of black hole related ESO press releases.
ann1028-en-gb — Announcement
Exoplanets – press kit
23 June 2010: A press kit about exoplanets is now available for download in PDF format. Exoplanets (or extrasolar planets) are planets that orbit stars other than our Sun. While astronomers have long suspected their existence, it is only in the past two decades that we have been able to detect them, with much of this cutting edge work done at ESO. This document explains in clear language: Why exoplanets are so hard to detect, and what strategies astronomers have used to find them; What these discoveries can tell us about the origins of our own Solar System and how the Earth was formed; How ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has allowed scientists to obtain the first image of an exoplanet; How the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope is the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter; and How future research could one day let us discover whether there is life on other planets. ...
ann1027-en-gb — Announcement
ESO Annual Report 2009 now available
18 June 2010: The ESO Annual Report 2009 is now available for download. It presents a comprehensive report of the many activities of the European Southern Observatory during 2009.
ann1026-en-gb — Announcement
Issue 8 of CAPjournal (Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal) is now available
18 June 2010: In this issue of Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal, the artist Tim Roth and his collaborators give us a behind the scenes look to their very successful science–art project Cosmic Revelation and our regular contributor, Matthew McCool looks back in time to the clash between science and the humanities. Between issues you can stay in touch through our website,, where you will find the current issues in PDF format, an astronomy communication and education job bank, submission guidelines and back issues. We also welcome astronomy and science communication events (conferences, meetings, etc.), training opportunities, job postings or courses offered. If you have astronomy and science communication-themed products such as books, DVDs, television programmes, magazines or websites that you would like to see reviewed by the CAPjournal editorial team, simply send the necessary information to: Any questions, comments or opinions can also be addressed there.
ann1025-en-gb — Announcement
Press Kit about the European Extremely Large Telescope available
17 June 2010: A Press Kit about the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is now available for download in PDF format, in English- and Spanish-language versions. The kit gives a concise but comprehensive overview of the background, current status, and future of what will be the world’s biggest eye on the sky.
ann1024-en-gb — Announcement
New ESO flyer available
17 June 2010: A new ESO flyer for download and printing is available in English and Spanish (PDF).
ann1023-en-gb — Announcement
ESO releases ESOcast 18: Exoplanet Caught on the Move
10 June 2010: For the first time, astronomers have been able to directly follow the motion of an exoplanet as it moves from one side of its host star to the other. The planet has the smallest orbit so far of all directly imaged exoplanets, lying almost as close to its parent star as Saturn is to the Sun. Scientists believe that it may have formed in a similar way to the giant planets in the Solar System. Because the star is so young, this discovery proves that gas giant planets can form within discs in only a few million years, a short time in cosmic terms. Together with the press release describing this discovery made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope, ESO has issued a new video podcast, ESOcast 18, entitled “Exoplanet Caught on the Move”, with our host, Dr J. The ESOCast provides a nice explanation of the discovery and its importance, ...
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