Contribute to ESO projects


In Chile, during the first three years of their contract, Fellows contribute to the operations at a level of 80 nights per year at the Observatory. In Garching, up to 25% of the time of a Fellow is spent on support or development activities in the area of instrumentation, operations support, archive/virtual observatory, VLTI, ALMA, ELT, public affairs or science operations at the Observatory in Chile.

Functional work carried out by current Fellows

Fellows provide not only a crucial support to the operations at the ESO Telescopes, such as:

  • Support Astronomer at Paranal
  • ALMA Commissioning and Science Verification
  • ALMA Astronomer on duty

but they also contribute to the activities carried out at the Garching Headquarter. For example:

  • VLT service mode operations: support the Instrument Science and Operation Team in assisting users of the VLT. 
  • MUSE instrument: test and define software for visualising optical/near-IR 3D data cubes and MUSE reduction pipeline.
  • ALMA Regional Center: test the CASA software - reduction and quality assurance of ALMA data.
  • Observing Programme Office: developement of new strategies for the future system of dealing with the observing proposals, including the way they are submitted, processed and handled internally.
  • E-ELT Science Office: developing the science case and updating accordingly the Top Level Requirements for the project.

This list is non-exhaustive, and only intended to give an idea of the diversity of functional works that you can carry out during the ESO Fellowship. Past ESO Fellows have engaged in activities such as: contributing to the  development of Public Surveys, working within our Outreach Department, helping with the commissioning of new instruments, contributing to the development of new software (pipelines, visualisation, testing observation tools, participating in the operational concept for adaptive optics, etc!

Being part of ESO projects is a unique experience for Fellows, thus we want to make sure that you will get the best out of it!

How current Fellows see their functional work at ESO?

"My functional duty as Support Astronomer at Paranal represents a unique opportunity to have a deep understanding of the ESO-VLT operational and scientific activities other than first-hand experience with most advanced astronomical instrumentation." - Giacomo Beccari

"Working on the development of the E-ELT has allowed me to gain an insight into short and long-term challenges facing a project of this magnitude- technical, political or otherwise! I have a much better understanding of where some of the things that astronomers often take for granted come from." - Noe Kains

"Working at ESO has given me the opportunity to get involved in several aspects of the ALMA project during the construction and Early Science phase that I would not have been able to do elsewhere." - Steven Longmore

"When I arrived at ESO, my observing experience was mostly limited to space-based telescopes. My duties at Paranal have allowed me to obtain ground-based observing experience that I would not have gotten elsewhere". - Grant Tremblay