Belgian Involvement with the European Southern Observatory 

DArtist’s impression of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system (Credit: ESO/N. Bartmann/

Belgium is one of the five founding members of ESO and took part in signing the ESO convention on 5 October 1962. It officially became a Member State on 2 October 1967. As a founder, Belgium has taken part in multiple ESO projects over the years with astronomers, engineers and industry in the country benefiting in a multitude of ways.  

Belgium currently contributes 2.98% of ESO’s revenue (2021 contribution), worth 5 722 000 EUR. 

As of mid 2022, there are 13 Belgian nationals employed at ESO, eight in Germany and five in Chile. Furthermore, ESO has awarded seven studentships, six fellowships and two internships to Belgian nationals since 2004.  

Belgium is represented in the various ESO governing and advisory bodies by astronomers and policy experts; the current Belgian representatives of ESO’s various committees with national representation can be found here.  

The ESO Science Outreach Network (ESON) includes Belgian representatives who act as ESO’s media and outreach local contacts. 

Here follows some information about Belgium's involvement with ESO. 

Discoveries by Belgium-based astronomers using ESO telescopes 

Belgian researchers and those based at Belgian institutions make extensive use of ESO facilities. ESO press releases that have involved astronomers at Belgian institutes include 

Belgian involvement in ESO instruments and telescopes at ESO sites 

Belgium has contributed to many aspects of ESO, including the technology behind instruments, ESO telescopes and telescopes based at ESO sites. These include  

Belgian involvement in ELT instruments 

In addition, two Belgian institutions (KU Leuven and University of Liège) are part of the consortium designing and building the METIS instrument for ESO’s upcoming Extremely Large Telescope.   

Belgian industry and technology contributions to ESO 

Belgium has contributed to many aspects of ESO, with many contracts awarded to Belgian industry. For example, the four VLT Auxiliary Telescopes mentioned above were built by the Belgian company AMOS S.A. 

Belgian industry contributions to the ELT 

The main ELT related contracts already awarded to Belgian institutions include 

  • AMOS S.A.: the company made important contributions to several design studies of the ELT and is also in charge of polishing the M4 reference body 
  • AGC Glass Europe SA: for the design and supply of the ELT mirror coating plants