Press Releases 1986

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eso8611-en-gb — Science Release
Long Lost Planet Found Again
4 December 1986: An unusual "astro-detective" investigation came to a successful conclusion today, when a long lost planet in the solar system was finally found again. This planet which carries the name "MALLY" and the number "1179" had been missing for 55 years, and was last seen in 1931. Its faint image was now identified on photographic plates obtained with the ESO Schmidt telescope during a dedicated search programme. The accurate orbit of MALLY in the solar system [1] has now been determined, ensuring that MALLY will never be lost again. This work was carried out by Drs. Lutz Schmadel of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut in Heidelberg, FRG, and Richard M. West of the European Southern Observatory.
eso8610-en-gb — Science Release
First Accurate Determination of the Sizes of Pluto and its Moon
5 November 1986: For the first time, an accurate and direct determination of the diameters of the outermost planet Pluto and its moon, Charon, has been made. On the basis of measurements of light changes during eclipses, Pluto was found to have a diameter of 2200±140 km. Charon is approximately half the size; the diameter is 1160±100 km. Charon moves in an almost perfectly circular orbit around Pluto; the orbital period is 6.38 days and the mean distance is 19400 km.
eso8609-en-gb — Organisation Release
The ESO Very Large Telescope: One More Step Towards Reality
4 October 1986: The ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) project [1] has passed an important milestone on its way towards realization. This week, more than 80 leading scientists and engineers from the ESO member countries (and beyond) made a detailed assessment of this ambitious project, which aims at the construction of the world's largest optical telescope. There was unanimous agreement that the present concept is near the optimal, that it is technologically feasible and can be realized within approximately 10 years after funding has been decided upon, and that it will allow European astronomers to perform new and spectacular investigations of the universe, unparalleled elsewhere. Completion is aimed at in 1997 but part of the VLT may become operational already in 1993.
eso8608-en-gb — Science Release
Big Radio Galaxy is Nearer than Previously Thought
13 May 1986: Detailed observations of a bright supernova in the peculiar galaxy NGC 5128 = Centaurus A, have led astronomers at the European Southern Observatory to believe that this galaxy is much closer to us than previously thought. It is the nearest, strongly radio-emitting galaxy and is as such an object of crucial importance in modern astrophysical research. The revised distance is 7 - 10 million light years or only 3 - 4 times farther away than the Andromeda Nebula. Cen A may therefore even be an outlying member of the Local Group. The total radio emission energy corresponds to the conversion to pure energy (annihilation) of a mass equal to 10.000 suns.
eso8607-en-gb — Photo Release
Comet Halley's Tails
6 March 1986: This spectacular image of Comet Halley, rising above the eastern horizon, was obtained at the La Silla observatory during the morning of February 22. It was made by superposing 6 exposures (total 9 min.) with the wide-field CCD camera which was specially designed for the study of Comet Halley. The image measures 5.5 x 9 degrees across and covers the 500 - 1100 nm spectral region (green near infrared). Each pixel (image element) measures 31 x 31 arc-seconds.
eso8606-en-gb — Organisation Release
ESO Presents the VLT: A 16 Metre Optical Telescope Project
3 March 1986: After several years of intensive studies, the European Southern Observatory now releases information to the public about its 16 metre telescope project. The concept here shown is the result of an extensive collaboration between European science and industry.
eso8605-en-gb — Science Release
Observations of Comet Halley at ESO Continue
26 February 1986: 23 February was the last morning when Comet Halley could be seen in a dark sky. During the next two weeks, the moonshine will hamper further detailed observations of the incredibly complicated tail structure which was recently detected at the European Southern Observatory on La Silla.
eso8604-en-gb — Science Release
Comet Halley Status; Observations at La Silla
18 February 1986: After the successful recovery of Comet Halley on 15 February, at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), observations have been made at the ESO La Silla Observatory every morning since. Accurate positions of the comet continue to be measured and transmitted within a few hours to the spacecraft centers in Darmstadt, Moscow, Tokyo and Pasadena. This is an important contribution to the accurate navigation of the five spacecrafts, including the European Space Agency's GIOTTO, now heading towards an encounter with Halley in early March.
eso8603-en-gb — Science Release
Comet Halley Recovered at ESO
16 February 1986: The first observation of Comet Halley after its passage behind the Sun was made at ESO La Silla by ESO Staff Astronomer R.M. West and Belgian astronomer H. Debehogne.
eso8602-en-gb — Organisation Release
ESO Signs Major Contract with INNSE for the Technologically Most Advanced Astronomical Telescope in the World
21 January 1986: An important contract was signed today in Milan, Italy between the European Southern Observatory and INNSE Innocenti Santeustacchio. It concerns the construction of a large astronomical telescope which will become the technologically most advanced in the world when it enters into operation in 1988.
eso8601-en-gb — Organisation Release
ESO Information and Photographic Service
13 January 1986: ESO has established a new service, which will from now on handle all public relations matters. It is located at the ESO Headquarters in Garching, FRG and can be reached as indicated below.
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