Awesome Universe — the Cosmos through the Eyes of the European Southern Observatory

Invitation to join exhibition campaign marking 50 years of Europe's quest to explore the southern sky

26 april 2012

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) invites venues such as public observatories, planetariums, science centres, museums, art galleries, and other public spaces, as well as organisers working with these venues, to join an international public exhibition campaign in 2012–2013 celebrating Europe’s quest to explore the southern sky. "Awesome Universe — the Cosmos through the Eyes of the European Southern Observatory" marks the 50th anniversary of ESO. A number of grants for financial support are available.

The exhibition campaign is aimed at the general public. Visitors will discover 50 visually stunning images, showcasing celestial objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters as seen by ESO’s observatories — home to the world’s most advanced ground-based telescopes — as well as beautiful images of the observatories themselves, which are located in some of the most unusual places on Earth. Additional exhibition panels introduce ESO itself, and present the highlights of the observatory's first 50 years. The visual appeal of the images will attract an audience of astronomy fans and also the wider public to venues. The gallery can also form the centrepiece of a broader exhibition, with other local activities and content.

Souvenirs available will include: a beautifully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition; “Europe to the Stars”, the ESO anniversary book and documentary (on DVD and Blu-ray); “The Jewel on the Mountaintop”, a book detailing ESO’s history, ESO posters, postcards, and more.

The exhibitions are a partnership between ESO and local venues or organisers, in particular in the ESO Member States, but also around the world. A limited number of grants to cover part of the expenses are available, and all organisers are invited to join a group production order for the highest-quality exhibition materials at preferential prices. The gallery images, as well as the souvenir material, are available to organisers at cost prices in bulk.

All gallery and exhibition material is also available in electronic form. A reference specification is provided for the gallery images and exhibition panels, with suggested production methods, although organisers may also choose to produce the material as they wish.

The deadline to apply for financial support, or to join the group production order, is 1 June 2012.

To find out more, visit the “Awesome Universe” page for organisers at

More Information

The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Czechia, 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 Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning a 40-metre-class European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.



Douglas Pierce-Price
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6759

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Awesome Universe
Awesome Universe