The 103rd Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) met on 20-22 November 2018. A total of 1082 (10-hour equivalent) nights of Visitor Mode and Service Mode observations were allocated on the VLT/VLTI, VISTA, VST, the 3.6-metre and NTT, and APEX telescopes. The submission deadline for Phase 2 Service Mode observations is Thursday 7 February, 2019; see the separate announcement for further details.
With the release of the telescope schedule, the preparation of Service Mode (SM) observations (Phase 2) starts. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 103 observations is 7 February 2019.
The VLTI has recently seen the commissioning of the MATISSE beam combiner and the NAOMI Adaptive Optics (AO) modules for the Auxiliary Telescopes. ESO is now calling for Science Verification (SV) Proposals, to be executed in April and May 2019. MATISSE SV aims at demonstrating the imaging capabilities and updated limiting magnitudes (compared to P103). NAOMI SV, performed with the PIONIER and GRAVITY instruments, aims at demonstrating the gain in sensitivity and precision delivered by the AO correction.
The 2018 Global Survey of Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Scientists aims to collect data from scientists across the world to inform policy makers from all countries, especially developing countries, on ways to reduce the gap between men and women in mathematical, computing, and natural sciences. The survey opened on 1 May 2018 and has so far collected feedback from more than 25 000 scientists. Unfortunately the field of astronomy has received one of the lowest number of respondents (about 1500), a mere 11% of the total International Astronomical Union (IAU) membership. Contributions will be accepted until 31 December 2018 so there is still time to remedy what may otherwise become a missed opportunity!
The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will start the next observing cycle (Cycle 7) in October 2019. ALMA Cycle 7 will introduce new capabilites in Band 7, including long baselines and solar observations. A Call for Proposals with detailed information on Cycle 7 will be issued in March, with a deadline for proposal submission in April. This first announcement highlights aspects of Cycle 7 that may be needed to plan proposals. More information can be found via the ALMA Science Portal.
The first public version of the data reduction pipeline for the ESPRESSO instrument has been released. The new pipeline supports all observing modes of ESPRESSO. The release includes the reduction software, demo data to test the pipeline, as well as an ESOREFLEX workflow to reduce and display the data, and interactively explore the resulting spectra or any of the calibrations used in the reduction. For further information and installation instructions, please visit the VLT Instrument Pipelines webpage. An improved version of the pipeline is expected to be released in early 2019.
The VLT provides a powerful suite of visible and infrared instruments, including unique capabilities like coherent and incoherent combinations of the four 8-metre Unit Telescopes and a multi-laser guided adaptive optics system. In combination with ALMA, it represents comprehensive coverage across the full parameter space encompassing ground-based observations in visible, infrared and sub-mm wavelengths. With the advent of ESO's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) the VLT will take on a new role. It will still serve a large community and will continue to provide unique data. Its strengths will include a suite of versatile instrumentation on four 8-metre telescopes, the spatial resolution achievable by interferometry and a flexible operations model. The VLT, VLTI and the instrumentation have been maintained at peak performance and new capabilities have been developed.
A discussion of future science served by the VLT should be the basis for its development in the ELT era. The ELT, VLT in its many functions and the ESO 4-metre telescopes will form a powerful astrophysics resource. The new role of the VLT needs to be defined and this workshop will provide a discussion forum aimed at shaping the VLT's future.
In order to keep ALMA at the forefront of technology, all ALMA partners have a continuous development programme. ESO strives to closely involve the member state institutes in this programme by issuing calls for development studies every three years (see the ALMA European Development webpage). The next call is expected to be issued in 2019. To optimally develop the ideas for new studies – especially in the context of the ALMA development roadmap – ESO will organise a development study workshop in Garching; further details will be announced soon. See the workshop webpage for more information.
The aim of this meeting is to once again bring together the worldwide ALMA community to discuss the observatory's recent scientific highlights. This follows on from the success of previous meetings held in 2012, 2014 and 2016 in Chile, Japan and the USA, respectively. A first announcement with further information will be distributed in early 2019.
4MOST is a state-of-the-art, high-multiplex, optical spectroscopic survey facility currently under construction for ESO’s 4-metre VISTA telescope. During the first five years of operations 4MOST will be used to execute a comprehensive programme of both Galactic and extragalactic Public Surveys, and 30% of the observing time during this period will be available to the community. The process of selecting Community Public Surveys will be initiated by a Call for Letters of Intent for Public Spectroscopic Surveys, to be issued by ESO in mid-2019. In preparation of this Call, ESO and the 4MOST Consortium are jointly organising a workshop to prepare the ESO community for this exciting scientific opportunity, to assist potential PIs in successfully responding to the Call, and to foster scientific collaborations between the community and the 4MOST Consortium.
The La Silla Observatory was officially inaugurated on 25 March 1969. This event marked the culmination of the vision of European astronomers to create a major observatory in the Southern Hemisphere. In the following decades, La Silla served as the test-bed for developing technical and scientific expertise in the European astronomical community, establishing communications channels with the public at large and the interaction of an inter-governmental organisation and its host country, Chile. Relations with other astronomical facilities in the Andes mountains are also part of its history. La Silla has served as a superb site where national communities of ESO member states could install their experiments; some of these facilities regularly put the La Silla Observatory in the news. This conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of La Silla. We will review the significance of its history in all aspects and discuss possible future scenarios. The history of the Observatory including all of its many facets, and the research areas where La Silla telescopes have made important contributions will be reviewed.
Over the last two decades, surveys mapping the Universe have made clear that star formation activity peaks about 10 billion years ago (known as cosmic noon). The driver of this behaviour is still an open area of research. A better understanding of star-forming regions and physical processes is required to explain the rise and fall of star formation around cosmic noon, which will be discussed during this workshop. The joint Australia–ESO conference forms part of the Elizabeth and Frederick White research conference series.