European Young Scientist Prizewinner Visits ESO Facilities in Chile

17. Februar 2010

Julian Petrasch, the 17-year-old German student who won the special ESO prize at the 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS), enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to two of ESO’s observatories in Chile from 7–13 February 2010.

In Julian’s winning project, “Sky Alignment Simulator (SAMS) — improved determination of minor planet positions”, he developed software to measure the positions of asteroids more precisely. He used the new software to pinpoint the positions of about twenty asteroids and two space probes. Julian reports that some publications on this topic from the Berlin Observatory have already used data processed with this new method.

It was amazing to walk between these giant telescopes and see how such large machines can be controlled and moved so precisely just by one person,” says Petrasch after his visit to Paranal Observatory. Julian, who became an amateur astronomer when he was only six years old, also feels deeply impressed by Chile, its nature, its enormous distances and the astonishing silence of the desert.

EUCYS is the most prestigious European scientific contest for students aged between 14 and 21, and was created to promote the ideals of co-operation and interchange between young scientists. In its 21st edition, over one hundred young scientists, selected from more than 30 000 participants in national contests, showed their projects at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris, from 11–16 September 2009.

As a member of the EIROforum, the group of seven major European Intergovernmental Research Organisations, the European Southern Observatory donates a special award for the best project in the field of astronomical and space physics. The prize is a one-week trip to Chile, which includes overnight stays at the La Silla and Paranal Observatories. For European young scientists, this visit offers a unique experience of life at the most advanced astronomical observatories in the world, a dream trip that could inspire them to pursue astronomy and astrophysics in the future.



Douglas Pierce-Price
Phone: +49 89 3200 6759

Laura Ventura
Phone: +56 2 463 3265

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Julian Petrasch, 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists prizewinner
Julian Petrasch, 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists prizewinner