NTT, 1991 - the original NTT, 1998 - post Big-Bang NTT, 2002 - migrated to the RITZ NTT, 2011 - at the NOB

Olivier Hainaut


Nice Results

  • Weird tail-less comets are coming from the Oort Cloud in the outer solar system. This project is lead by Karen Meech, and the observations were done with Gemini.
  • Halley's Comet is still observed! in March 2003, at the distance of Neptune. This was also the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" on Oct.3. I had also observed that comet in 1994, as it passed the halfway mark (January 1994): observation of the faintest solar system object ever observed. [at that time]. In 1991, I detected a majour outburst on the comet - which should have been quiet at that time. This outburst created some waves in the public. For instance, a lady contacted me to ensure me that this was a direct cause (or was it a consequence?) of the Gulf war. Also, a journalist concluded that the comet had completely exploded (which in turned caused some additional comments-in french in this example).
  • Comet Hale-Bopp was still very active in 2001, esp. considering the distance at which it was. We observed it at the 2.2m at ESO in Mar.2001; here is a nice color image (and is also available in Italian, in Hebrew elsewhere...). It was also an "Astronomy Pic. of the Day".
  • The object 2000 OF8 was discovered as an asteroid. We found out that it is really a comet
  • The Trans-Neptunian Object 1996 TO66 has been extensively observed; we obtained many interesting resulst on that object, including its rotation period. This is described in an ESO Press Release, and in more details in one of my papers.
  • A strange supernova, sn 1998 bw, which seems to be related to a Gamma Ray Burst (May 98). An ESO Press Release has been published on that object. This object turned out to be the key that unlocked the mystery of GRBs
  • Volcanoes on Io, using the UH adaptive optics instrument on the CFHT.
  • Observations of Comet Hale-Bopp. The IfA Hale-Bopp page contains plenty of info and links about that comet; for nice pictures, check out the Images and Spectra page.
  • Rapid Changes in the Inner Coma of Comet Hyakutake (March 1996): acrobatic observations of this nice comet with a great telescope and a great seeing!
  • Comet 1992a Helin-Alu, a nice distant comet, on its discoverer page.
  • The discovery of a Transneptunian Object: 1994 TG2 (October 1994): one more TNO (only about 60 were known at that time), but I discovered this one :-)
  • High Resolution HST Images of Pluto and Charon (May 1994): the first detailed, direct look at Pluto and Charon's surface.

On-going Projects

  • 67P+Rosetta: ground-based observations of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during the Rosetta mission.
  • Castalia: a space mission to Main-Belt Comet 133P/Elst-Pizarro.
  • Recovery and follow-up of potentially threatening Near-Earth Asteroids
  • Trans-Neptunian Objects: The MBOSS color database, a compilation and analysis of published MBOSS photometry

  • ESO's Cosmic Gems is a neat project to make good-looking astronomical images.


ADS custom query.

Software tools

  • POS1/Astromet: an ESO/MIDAS package for astrometric calibration of scientific image (plates and CCD); it can get its USNO/A1 standard stars automatically through the net.
  • TMAG: an ESO/MIDAS package for photometric calibration of CCD images, with quasi-automatic identification of Landolt's stars, and interactive edition of bad points.
  • MeteoMonitor, a web-tool to monitor the conditions at ESO/La Silla. It also exists for ESO/Garching, at MeteoMonitor - Garching.
  • Astrolabe Generator, a web-tool to produce "astrolabes" for your site (updated version at - The one at IfA is outdated). An on-line preview of the cardboard version is available for Paranal.


Personal stuff

You can also
  • Enjoy my (small but growing) UFO picture collection.
  • Have a look at my curriculum vitae
  • get my addresses
  • On this page, you will find the whole, email exchange constituting the Car 42 Saga. This is part of the ESO folklore, probably of no interest for outsiders...

Marie-Claire, my wife, has her own page at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, with plenty of palmtrees and aloha. Note that she left CFHT for Gemini, where she worked until 2009. There was a nice article about her in the July 98 "Ciel & Espace" (sorry, no English version).

Note that this is a private page. "Any view or statement made is not part of an official standpoint of ESO."

Olivier R. Hainaut (ohainaut at