Irish Membership of ESO Approved by ESO Council
6 June 2018
On 6 June 2018, at its meeting in Garching, Germany, ESO’s governing body, the Council, unanimously approved the accession of Ireland into ESO. The ESO Director General, Xavier Barcons, now has the green light to proceed to sign the Accession Agreement with representatives of the Irish government, which is expected later in the year.
Once Dáil Éireann (the Irish Parliament) ratifies the Accession Agreement Ireland will become ESO’s 16th Member State.
Ireland has a long tradition in astronomy and a vibrant research community, which has supported ESO membership for many years. For several decades in the nineteenth century, Ireland hosted the world’s largest telescope — the Leviathan of Parsonstown — a 1.8-metre reflecting telescope at Birr Castle. The grounds of Birr Castle are now home to I-LOFAR, the Irish link to a Europe wide low-frequency radio telescope.
Around 200 researchers currently work in major astronomy and astrophysics disciplines, in nine institutes and colleges around Ireland.
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 15 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a strategic partner. 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 and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.
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