ESO to announce major exoplanet finding and provide update on the Extremely Large Telescope

ESO, the European Southern Observatory, will host two press events during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (JENAM 2009) that takes place at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. The two events are scheduled for the morning of Tuesday 21 April 2009.

At 11:00 BST/12:00 CEST, a press conference will highlight a major and truly unique discovery in the field of exoplanets, made possible with ESO telescopes.

From 11:30 BST/12:30 CEST until 13:30 BST/14:30 CEST, a special writer's workshop will be dedicated to the future 42-metre Extremely Large Telescope, which will become "The World's Biggest Eye on the Sky". Science writers will be updated by the key players on the status of this amazing project, which has gained wide support in the scientific community, and whose go-ahead for construction is expected in 2010.

The panelists are:

  • Tim de Zeeuw, ESO Director General
  • Roberto Gilmozzi, ESO, ELT Principal Investigator
  • Mark Casali, ESO, Head of the Instrumentation Division
  • Isobel Hook, University of Oxford, UK

A buffet lunch will be offered.

Media registration for JENAM 2009 is free of charge - any bona fide media delegates can pre-register online using the form (advance registration is not essential but encouraged).


Dr Henri Boffin
Tel: +49 89 3200 6222

Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 / 4582
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035


About ESO: ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe. It is supported by 14 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in the Atacama Desert region of Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.

About the ELT: Since the end of 2005 ESO and its user community of European astronomers and astrophysicists have been collaborating to define the giant new telescope needed by the middle of the next decade. More than 100 astronomers from all European countries have been involved since 2006, helping the ESO Project Offices to produce a novel concept, in which performance, cost, schedule and risk were carefully evaluated. Dubbed ELT for Extremely Large Telescope, this revolutionary new ground-based telescope will be 42 metres in diameter and will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world: "The World's Biggest Eye on the Sky". With the start of operations planned for 2018, the ELT will tackle the biggest scientific challenges of our time, and aim for a number of notable firsts, including studying Earth-like planets around other stars in the habitable zones where life could exist &mdash one of the holy grails of modern observational astronomy. It will also perform "stellar archaeology" in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy. On top of this astronomers are also planning for the unexpected &mdash new and unforeseeable questions will surely arise from the discoveries made with the ELT. The ELT may, eventually, revolutionise our perception of the Universe as much as Galileo's telescope did.

About JENAM/NAM/EWASS: From 20 to 23 April 2009, more than 1000 astronomers and space scientists will gather at the University of Hertfordshire for the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS), incorporating the 2009 Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2009) and the European Astronomical Society Joint Meeting (JENAM 2009). The conference includes scientific sessions organised by ESO.

A full and up to date schedule of these and other events can be found on the official website at: