ESO Astronomer Awarded Chilean Medal
Hans-Emil Schuster receives prestigious Chilean state award for his contribution to astronomy
21 October 2011
In a ceremony at the Chilean Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany, the Consul General, Eduardo Schott, awarded the rank of Commander of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins to Hans-Emil Schuster in recognition of his important contribution to astronomy in Chile.
Born in 1934, Hans-Emil Schuster is a German astronomer who worked first at the Hamburg Observatory and then at the European Southern Observatory in Chile from the 1960s, before retiring in 1991. A former student of Otto Heckmann in Hamburg — the first Director General of ESO — he was appointed assistant astronomer at ESO in 1964 and was among the first staff members of the organisation.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr Schuster discovered no fewer than 25 asteroids and two comets, 106P/Schuster and C/1976 D2 — which had the largest observed minimum distance to the Sun of the time, at one billion kilometres. He is also credited with the discovery of the Phoenix Dwarf irregular galaxy in the constellation of Phoenix, the discovery of the Eridanus globular cluster in the constellation of Eridanus in the southern sky, as well as a supernova in the galaxy NGC 1255.
He took part in the exploration, selection and testing of sites for the ESO observatories that were eventually sited at Paranal and La Silla, and later became acting director of the latter. He was also involved in two ESO Southern Sky Surveys which aimed to precisely map the southern sky.
At the ceremony, Hans-Emil Schuster dedicated the award to his Chilean collaborators and to his late wife Rosemarie “for her patience and relentless support during the many years I was working at ESO and rarely was home. She made it all possible.”
The Order of Bernardo O’Higgins is the highest state order awarded to foreigners in Chile for their contribution in the fields of arts, sciences, education, industry, trade and humanitarian and social cooperation. It was initially created in 1956 as an extension of the Order of Merit before becoming its own order in 1967 and is named after Bernardo O’Higgins, who is considered one of the founding fathers of Chile as a hero of the Chilean War of Independence against Spain and as second Supreme Director of Chile.
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