Announcements 2012

ann12103-en-us — Announcement
ESO Virtual Tours: 50th Anniversary Edition
20 December 2012: The fourth generation of ESO’s Virtual Tours is now available to view on the ESO website. The 50th anniversary edition of ESO’s virtual tours take you on all-inclusive journeys into and around some of ESO’s most breathtaking sites and groundbreaking instruments. This brand new version surpasses earlier tours by including more than double the original number of panoramic scenes. Thanks to a user-friendly and interactive navigation system, these virtual tours allow everyone to visit and explore some of ESO’s most spectacular sites. Labels describing the locations and major landmarks are included throughout the tour as well as a google maps link-up that lets you to pinpoint exactly where each ESO site is in relation to the rest if the world, and allow you to jump across the globe to visit them in seconds. It is also possible to click on interactive squares throughout the tour that display short video clips ...
ann12102-en-us — Announcement
ESO Releases The Messenger No. 150
18 December 2012: The latest edition of ESO’s quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. This landmark 150th issue celebrates a milestone for the journal as well as ESO’s 50th anniversary. It also comes with an anniversary DVD insert. Find out more about ESO’s 50 years of reaching the stars, as well as the latest news from ESO on topics ranging from new instruments to the latest science discoveries.Highlights of this edition include: A look back over ESO’s 50th anniversary celebrations and some reflections from past Directors General. An article describing the evolution and growth of observing programmes at ESO. An update on the progress made by the La Silla-QUEST Variability Survey. A review of the main discoveries made by studying the Beta Pictoris system. Download The Messenger in PDF format or visit The Messenger website to subscribe and receive a free printed copy.
ann12101-en-us — Announcement
Astronomers Around the World Meet to Share ALMA Observatory First Results
17 December 2012: Astronomers from around the world have been meeting in Chile to discuss the exciting first year of scientific results from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope. ALMA started Early Science operations at the end of September 2011, and the first scientific papers have recently been appearing in refereed journals. “Out of this first year of ALMA science we already have transformational results in the main ALMA science areas,” says Leonardo Testi from ESO, Chair of the Conference Scientific Organising Committee. “We now have a much better understanding of the process of planet formation around other stars. New and important results were obtained in the area of pre-biotic molecules in space, which may be linked to the origin of life. With ALMA we are starting to study in detail the chemistry of water and complex organic molecules and this is important for understanding our origins,” he added. Two hundred astronomers ...
ann12100-en-us — Announcement
Venus Transit Seen Reflected from the Moon
14 December 2012: On 6 June 2012 Venus passed directly between the Earth and the Sun and the planet appeared as a silhouette against the solar disc. Such a transit of Venus will not happen again until 5 December 2117. The recent transit could not be seen from ESO’s Chile observatories as the Sun was below the horizon. But, undaunted, a team of Italian astronomers led by Paolo Molaro of the Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica at the University of Trieste used the opportunity to perform an unusual and challenging experiment, looking at the sunlight reflected off the Moon to see how it changed during the transit. This measurement, done with ESO's High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph installed on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile, could help scientists to find planets in orbit around other stars. The team has published their results in the journal Monthly Notices of ...
ann12099-en-us — Announcement
ALMA Time-lapse Video Compilation Released
12 December 2012: A video compilation of time-lapse footage of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is now available. The video is a collection of time-lapse shots of the ALMA site in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, showing the synchronised dance of the array’s antennas as they observe the clear night sky circling overhead. The several minutes of time-lapse video show the antennas in various conditions: as night falls and at dawn, under bright moonlight or with the centre of our Milky Way sparkling against the dark sky, and with the glow of lights from observatory vehicles and the antennas themselves. These observations take place against a backdrop of stunning night skies over the Chilean Plateau. The compilation, produced by ESO using footage from ESO Photo Ambassadors Christoph Malin (christophmalin.com), Babak Tafreshi (twanight.org), and José Francisco Salgado (josefrancisco.org), shows only a small cluster of the array’s many antennas. When completed, ALMA will ...
ann12098-en-us — Announcement
ESO Chile Hosts International Conference on Physics and Astronomy
10 December 2012: A scientific workshop and conference Ciencia de los Extremos, las partículas elementales y el Universo (Extreme Science, elementary particles and the Universe) was held on 6–8 December 2012 at different sites of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. The meeting, which featured leading researchers from the fields of physics and astronomy, was arranged by the ESO representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, and the President of the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research of Chile (CONICYT), José Miguel Aguilera. The workshop brought together more than 150 scientists from Chile and other countries. During the opening day at ESO’s premises in Santiago, more than 80 graduate students, astronomers and physicists attended six lectures on the latest developments in the fields of particle physics and astronomy. On the following day, more than 50 physicists and astronomers talked about the different possibilities for these two sciences to contribute to one another. "It ...
ann12097-en-us — Announcement
President of Austria Visits ESO in Santiago
7 December 2012: On 6 December 2012 the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Dr Heinz Fischer and his wife Margit Fischer, visited ESO’s premises in Santiago, Chile. The President was accompanied by Dorothea Auer, Austrian Ambassador to Chile and Friedrich Faulhammer, Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research. They were joined by several other Austrian government officials as well as a scientific and cultural delegation. The President and his entourage were met by ESO’s Representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, and ESO staff including an Austrian astronomer at ESO, Christoph Saulder, who introduced them to the organisation and its activities. During his visit the President was given a short presentation about the 50-year history of ESO as well as the plans for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Austria joined ESO in June 2008 (eso0820) and since then Austrian astronomers have made extensive use of ESO facilities, including ALMA. In ...
ann12096-en-us — Announcement
ESO E-ELT Programme Confirmed
4 December 2012: At the 126th meeting of ESO’s governing body, the Council, this week at the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, the start of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) programme received full approval, following the confirmation of three previously ad referendum votes (meaning that these votes were subject to confirmation by the authorities of those Member States), and one additional vote in favour, by the ESO Member State representatives. To approve the start of the E-ELT programme, two-thirds of the Member States (at least ten) had to vote in favour of the resolution for the approval of the E-ELT and its first suite of powerful instruments. At the last meeting of the ESO Council, in June 2012, ten Member States (Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Italy, and the United Kingdom) voted in favour. However, the latter four Member States voted ad referendum. Of these ad ...
ann12095-en-us — Announcement
Science in School Issue 25: Out Now!
3 December 2012: The latest issue of the free magazine Science in School is now available online and in print. The European journal, dedicated to science teachers and educators, offers numerous science articles and activities to help inspire and encourage school-aged students. Some of the highlights of this issue include an interview with CERN’s Director General, Rolf Heuer, about the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs Boson, and an article about the search for new elements for the periodic table. There’s also a science education project showing you how you can follow in Galileo Galilei’s footsteps by rediscovering the moons of Jupiter in the classroom. Students can learn about the complex and error prone process of biological cell division, and how new research has helped in our understanding of this mechanism. Another topic covered is the work done by scientists seeking a more fundamental definition of the kilogram. Science in School is published ...
ann12094-en-us — Announcement
Bite-Size "Europe to the Stars" Movie Available Now
3 December 2012: ESO’s stunning new movie Europe to the Stars, which celebrates ESO’s first 50 years of exploring the southern sky, is now available in a shortened form, covering the main themes of the full-length movie. Lasting approximately eight minutes, this bite-size edited version showcases ESO’s greatest achievements with breathtaking visuals, and gives a unique perspective on how astronomy has evolved along with our understanding of the Universe. This version of ESO’s newest and most impressive movie is available to view and download here. The full 63-minute movie version of “Europe to the Stars”, is also available to view and download in a number of formats, or to purchase on Blu-ray, or DVD in a VIP box or a cardboard cover. All products are also available for bulk orders, with discounts varying depending on the desired quantity.
ann12093-en-us — Announcement
New Video Compilation Released: Relocation of an ALMA Antenna
3 December 2012: A fresh video compilation of an ALMA transporter in action is now available. Under construction on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes, ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a revolutionary observatory, designed to study some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. When construction is completed in 2013, ALMA will have a total of 66 antennas, which can be repositioned to reconfigure the telescope. The antennas, which are constructed from state-of-the-art precision components, each weigh over 100 tonnes, so moving them around requires specially designed vehicles. These vehicles, named Otto and Lore, are 20 metres long, 10 metres wide, 6 metres high, and have 28 tyres. An overview of the whole process of moving one of the 12-metre ALMA antennas, using the transporter Lore, is shown in this compilation. In this case, the move took place at the observatory’s Operations Support Facility, at an altitude ...
ann12092-en-us — Announcement
Media Advisory: Apply Now to Attend the ALMA Observatory Inauguration
3 December 2012: On 13 March 2013 the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest ground-based astronomical project in the world, will be inaugurated, celebrating ALMA’s transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory and marking the milestone of all the major systems of the observatory being operational. More than 50 of ALMA’s antennas will be in operation, and all 66 will be fully assembled. The inauguration ceremony will take place at ALMA’s Operations Support Facility (OSF), 34 kilometres from San Pedro de Atacama, in Chile. ESO is the European partner in ALMA. The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, along with representatives from the global scientific community, current and former ALMA personnel and its executives, as well as the communities located near ALMA, will be present to celebrate the success of the project.Members of the international media are invited to submit applications of interest in advance to attend this astronomical milestone. ...
ann12091-en-us — Announcement
New Book Showcases ESO Images
30 November 2012: Springer Spektrum has just published a compilation of astronomical lectures featuring many images provided by ESO and ESA/Hubble. The book, entitled Universum für Alle: 70 spannende Fragen und kurzweilige Antworten (The Universe for Everyone: 70 exciting questions and entertaining answers), was compiled by Joachim Wambsganß, Director of Heidelberg University’s Zentrum für Astronomie. Among the forty or so contributors are Markus Pössel and Carolin Liefke, representatives of the German branch of ESO’s Science Outreach Network (ESON). ESON is a network of people in the ESO Member States and other countries who serve as local contacts for the media in connection with ESO developments, press releases, and other material. The book is based on a series of 70 short lunchtime astronomical talks held at Heidelberg University in the Peterskirche University Church, called “Uni(versum) für alle! — Halbe Heidelberger Sternstunden” or “Uni(verse) for Everyone: Heidelberg Half-hours with the Stars”. It dedicates a short section ...
ann12090-en-us — Announcement
Richtfest for ESO Headquarters Extension
29 November 2012: In recent months, ESO’s headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, have been expanding. Construction of the extension began on 1 January 2012 and the foundation stone was laid on 11 June (ann12044). With the completion of the outer shell of this new building, it is now time for the Richtfest — a German name for a traditional ceremony known as topping out in other countries. The Richtfest was celebrated today at 15:00, and is a way of thanking the construction team for its successful work. This ceremony takes place when the outer structure and roof of a building has been put into place, and it is a chance for both the construction team and the future occupants to celebrate the current progress, and to hope for future luck with the building. Typically, the roof — the highest point on the building — is decorated and topped with a tree, and ...
ann12089-en-us — Announcement
ESO Goes IMAX 3D
29 November 2012: ESO is excited to announce the commencement of a new collaboration with Australian production company December Media and Swinburne 3D Productions to produce the IMAX film Hidden Universe. This venture represents a fantastic opportunity to showcase ESO’s spectacular telescopes, dedicated to the exploration of the Universe. The Australian production team has recently completed filming at both Paranal, home of ESO’s flagship facility, the VLT and ALMA, an international astronomy facility, supported by Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. Russell Scott of Swinburne 3D Productions is directing the AUS$8.6 million film and has been on location in Paranal over the past few weeks. “Filming in the Atacama desert amongst such world-class observing facilities has been an amazing experience,” he says, “it really is the perfect place to undertake a guided tour into the world of state-of-the-art telescopes.” The film is a December Media production ...
ann12088-en-us — Announcement
Terra Mater: The Eyes of the Atacama Premieres in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland
27 November 2012: The Eyes of the Atacama, an exciting and lavishly produced new documentary about ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) will have its German-language premiere at 20:15 CET on 28 November 2012 on the Servus TV television station, broadcast in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. The film was produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios, Vienna — it is the latest episode of the science, nature, and history series Terra Mater. An English-language version of the documentary is also in production, and will be available in the first half of 2013. The 53-minute documentary, by Annette and Klaus Scheurich of Marco Polo Film — one of Germany’s leading nature film companies — brings to life the adventure of astronomical research and highlights just how important state-of-the-art telescopes such as ALMA are for the future of scientific discovery. Shot in high definition, the programme combines large-scale images with exquisite detail to give viewers a ...
ann12087-en-us — Announcement
Major European Intergovernmental Research Organisations Urge EU to Sustain Investment in Science
22 November 2012: The Directors General of eight of Europe’s largest intergovernmental scientific research organisations — the EIROforum, of which ESO is a member — have urged the institutions and Member States of the European Union to continue to support science strongly in their budgets, in an open letter sent to José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, among others. The letter reads: Sustaining science funding in Europe: an open letter from the Directors General of Europe's eight largest research infrastructures Open Letter, 20 November 2012 Professor Rolf Heuer (CERN), Professor Francesco Romanelli (EFDA-JET), Professor Iain Mattaj  (EMBL), Professor Alvaro Gimenez Caňete (ESA),  Professor Tim de Zeeuw (ESO), Professor Francesco Sette (ESRF), Professor Massimo Alterelli (EU.XFEL), and Professor Andrew Harrison (ILL) We, the Directors-General and senior representatives of Europe’s eight world-leading European intergovernmental research organisations (EIROs), urge the institutions and member states of the EU to ensure that the budget for science ...
ann12086-en-us — Announcement
ESO Anniversary Greetings
16 November 2012: This year, ESO is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To mark this occasion the organisation has produced several books and multimedia releases and hosted public events and workshops, culminating in a webcast and a celebratory gala event in October. Included in the celebrations is this video, a compilation of personal messages recorded by a whole host of musicians and notable names in the music industry, many of whom have visited Paranal and have a personal interest in ESO’s work. The video is like a Who’s Who of pop and rock in the 1970s and 80s, featuring Andy Bell (Erasure), Kim Wilde, record producer Ricky Wilde, Martyn Ware (Human League/Heaven 17), Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Paul Young, Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), and renowned record producer Alan Parsons (The Alan Parsons Project/Pink Floyd/The Beatles). The greetings also include a message from successful German recording artists Lichtmond, a band with a studio not far from ...
ann12085-en-us — Announcement
ESOcast 50: Chile Chill 1
15 November 2012: This episode of the ESOcast introduces a new type of ESOcasts called “Chile Chill”. These ESOcasts offer a calm experience of the Chilean night sky and ESO’s observatory sites, undisturbed by facts or narration. In this episode we follow a typical night of observing for ESO’s telescopes. Set to instrumental music composed by John Stanford (johnstanfordmusic.com), it includes panoramic shots of the night sky viewed from ESO’s sites in Chile, interspersed with shots of the stark surrounding landscape and the astronomical facilities that have been built there. The video shows dramatically how Chile has some of the best skies on our planet for astronomy and allows us to gaze at a spectacularly clear dark sky full of stars. As the Sun sets and day fades into night, starlight rains down on the ESO telescopes and their domes slide open in preparation for a night of observing. The ESOcast shows breathtaking ...
ann12084-en-us — Announcement
Pierre Cox Appointed as New ALMA Director
14 November 2012: The ALMA Board announced today, 14 November 2012, that Pierre Cox has been appointed as the next Director of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Cox will take up duty on 1 April 2013, for a period of five years, at the end of Thijs de Graauw’s term as ALMA Director. Thijs de Graauw, who has been the ALMA Director since 2008, has taken the observatory past many milestones in his five-year term, including the start of its science observations, in 2011 (see eso1137). Cox has been the Director of IRAM (Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique) since 2006. IRAM operates the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI) near Grenoble, France, and its 30-metre telescope on Pico Veleta, Spain — both telescopes observing at millimetre-wavelengths — on behalf of its three partners: the German Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG), the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Spanish Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN). Pierre ...
Showing 1 to 20 of 103