ESO Representation Office in Chile

The ESO Representation Office in Chile acts on behalf of the ESO Director General in all relevant matters for the Organisation in the country. This includes collaborations with Chilean national and local authorities, and with the diplomatic missions representing ESO State Members in the country.

Among its objectives is the promotion of the collaboration between ESO and the astronomy stakeholders in Chile working towards long-term operational stability and strengthening the cooperative relationship of the Organisation in the country.

The ESO Representation Office in Chile functions as a bridge between the internal divisions of the Organisation and the Chilean society. To achieve this goal, the office works in coordination with the ESO Operations Division, Department of Communications, Office for Science, Legal and Institutional Affairs, and ESO Administration Division.

Joint Committee of ESO and Government of Chile

The ESO Representation Office carries out a series of activities and provides funds to promote the cooperation with Chile. The most relevant is the Joint Committee of ESO and Government of Chile.

Established as part of the 1996 agreement, the Joint Committee of ESO and Government of Chile contributes to astronomy, related technologies and scientific culture in the country. Delegates of ESO and Chile jointly evaluates and selects programmes to be supported by this fund. Chile is being represented by the Energy, Science and Technology & Innovation Division (DECYTI) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development (ANID) as well as the Chilean Astronomical Society (SOCHIAS).

For the 2020 competition, ESO made available approximately CLP $450 million (around EUR €500 thousand) for the fund of the Joint Committee, which supports the following areas:

  • Postdoctoral programs: Postdoctoral programs in astronomy at Chilean academic institutions.
  • Training: Academic faculty positions for periods of up to two years at Chilean academic institutions.
  • Technology: Support for development and construction of technological systems for astronomy.
  • Education and dissemination: Support for educational programs and teaching and dissemination of astronomy in Chile.
  • Support for the development of astronomy in areas not covered by the above four categories.

The call for proposals from the Joint Committee is announced annually between June and July on the ESO website.

Luis Chavarría

Since 2021, the ESO Representative in Chile is the astronomer Luis Chavarría. Credit: ESO
ESO and UN Women sign a Memorandum of Understanding at ESO’s Vitacura Office in Santiago, Chile.

ESO and UN Women signed a Memorandum of Understanding at ESO’s Vitacura Office in Santiago, Chile. Credit: ESO

Projects of the ESO Representation Office in Chile

ESO – UN Women

On 2020, as part of its commitment to advancing gender equality, diversity and inclusion, ESO and UN Women signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to combine forces to promote science and engineering careers among young girls in Chile.

Together, ESO and UN Women also collaborate to the success of the Second Change programme (Tu Oportunidad en Chile) aiming to create training opportunities along the value chain of astronomy for disadvantaged women who have struggled to finish their formal education, especially in the Antofagasta Region.

The MoU allows ESO learn from the leadership of UN Women, and structure and measure the progress of its diversity and inclusion actions, using Women Empowerment Principles as guideposts.

Paranal Observatory – Microsoft

ESO main future project is the construction of the ELT, the largest telescope in the world for visible and infrared light. With the objective of adopting new 4.0 industry concepts into its operational processes, ESO and Microsoft entered into an alliance that help tackle complex problems of a state-of-the-art observatory such as Paranal. The knowledge acquired will be transferred to the local community through collaborations and projects in partnership with Chilean companies and universities.

A high-level Microsoft delegation, including the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory on Friday 24 May 2019.

A high-level Microsoft delegation visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory on 2019. The visit was an ideal opportunity for Microsoft and ESO to explore the possibility of further cooperation in research and innovation. Credit: Microsoft/J.Svare
Visitors observe the 2019 solar eclipse from a privileged area near the SEST at La Silla

On 2019, the path of totality of a solar eclipse passed across ESO’s La Silla Observatory. ESO, in collaboration with the Government of Chile, organised an event that gave people the opportunity to experience this phenomenon from La Silla itself. Credit: ESO/J. Kupec

Regional Relations Office

ESO strives to develop closer relationships with the communities in the regions where it operates. In 2019, the Regional Relations Office was created to ensure that ESO’s presence in Chile directly benefits the Coquimbo and Antofagasta regions.

The office is in charge of the scholarships granted to students from the district of Taltal, in the Antofagasta Region, where Paranal Observatory is located. These scholarships seek to support high school and university students in achieving academic excellence.

Since 2019, the ESO Regional Relations Officer is Bárbara Núñez.

Prevention of light pollution

ESO’s observatories benefit from the pristine Chilean skies, but there are signs that light pollution is becoming a serious problem not only for astronomy but also for human wellbeing and the environment.

ESO actively supports light pollution control in Chile. ESO is one of the organisations that sponsors and funds the Office for the Protection of the Sky Quality (OPCC) in the north of Chile. This office was established jointly by ESO, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Las Campanas Observatory (Carnegie Institution of Washington - CARSO) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), with the participation of the Chilean Astronomical Society (SOCHIAS) and the Chilean Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment. The OPCC collaborates with observatories and the Chilean authorities in order to protect the darkness of the sky.

In addition, ESO collaborates with Cielos de Chile Foundation which has the goal of promoting activities related to Chile’s dark skies and making people and their communities aware of with this invaluable heritage and the benefits of protecting it.


Luis Chavarría
ESO Representative in Chile
Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura
Santiago, Chile

Bárbara Núñez Jerez
Regional Relations Officer
Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura

Santiago, Chile


María Adriana Arrau
Assistant of the Office of the ESO Representation in Chile
Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura

Santiago, Chile


Gautier Mathys
Scientific Cooperation Officer
Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura

 Santiago, Chile