The Scientific Visitor Programme at the ESO Chile


To support long term visits by first rate scientists as a way to promote the scientific interaction of ESO with its community and with research institutions worldwide and to enhance ESO's role as an astronomical centre of excellence

Who is eligible

Any active scientist with a PhD in astronomy or related disciplines currently employed in astronomical research is eligible to apply. No nationality is in principle excluded. However, preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Scientists without an affiliation during the entire time of the planned visit cannot apply within this programme.

Early-career scientists (PhD students and up to three years from the PhD) are encouraged to apply via the Early-Career Visitor Programme.

How to Apply

Eligible scientists who want to apply are kindly requested to complete the application form and send it by e-mail to the ESO Chile Visitor Selection Committee (VSC) ( Find the Forms in the following links (Docx) (PDF)

Potential applicants are encouraged to directly contact any ESO staff member or fellow and coordinate their planned visit with them.  Alternatively, any potential applicant may contact the Visitor Selection Committee at ESO Chile ( to put them in contact with an ESO staff member in their field. 

Potential visitors are requested to submit their application at least four months before the planned visit for practical reasons.

The length of the visits can vary from a few days up to one year, however visits of longer than two or three months are rare.  Applications for visits of less than one month in duration are handled directly by the Head of the Office for Science in Chile, while those requesting longer stays are reviewed by the VSC.  A minimum of two years must elapse between visits of a month or more by the same person, unless special agreements have been made.

Selection Committee and evaluation process

The ESO Chile Visitor Programme  is under the responsibility of the Office for Science in Chile. Applications to the ESO Visitor Programme are evaluated by the ESO Chile Scientific Visitor Selection Committee, whose members and chair are selected from ESO astronomers in Chile, including at least one Fellow,  and cover a broad range of scientific interests.  The chair is appointed on a yearly basis, the members generally rotate over a three-year period.

Current membership of the VSC are: Emanuela Pompei (chair), Elyar Sedaghati, Gautier Mathys, Martina Baratella, and Robert Klement. Paulina Jiron is the programme secretary (

Applications for the Scientific Visitor Programme in Chile are accepted at any time. The VSC reviews incoming applications every 1-2 months and recommends visitors to the Head of the Office for Science. It also searches actively in collaboration with the Faculty for potential visitors who, by their specific expertise and/or internationally recognised level of excellence in research, can contribute to the scientific activities of the organisation. It follows the approved visits with the appropriate correspondence and arrangements and globally monitors the ongoing visits to make them successful. It formulates proposals to the ESO management to improve the programme. 

The evaluation of the applications is done taking into consideration the scientific excellence of the applicant as witnessed by the quality of the research plan and of the overall scientific activity of the visitor (publications and research experience) in any field of astronomy. The VSC also values visitors who, with their well-proven expertise, can contribute to the ESO science-related activities and projects (e.g., definition of scientific drivers of a new VLT instrument, scientific case for a new project), and scientific visitors who would like to visit ESO within the framework of a specific scientific project in collaboration with ESO staff or fellows but who can also contribute to the overall scientific discussion within ESO.  

Support to and Duties of the Visitors

A scientific visitor has the status of Unpaid Associate and receives a fixed allowance to help cover living expenses while at ESO, including support of accommodations in a Hotel or ApartHotel for the period of the visit. Travel support from outside Chile is generally not provided, but could be considered  for visits longer than one month and for very well justified cases where no other funding resources exist.  Up to one guest can be hosted in the Apart Hotel with no extra charge.

Upon his/her arrival, the visitor is supported by the secretary of the scientific visitor programme, Paulina Jiron (, on the administrative aspects of their visit. The contact person (the scientific collaborator at ESO or a member of the staff identified at the time of the invitation) has the task of introducing the visitor to the scientific life at ESO. An office is assigned to every approved visitor,  as well as a computer terminal and an account.

All visitors are requested to give either a seminar or an informal discussion during their stay at ESO, and are expected to follow the ESO code of conduct.

Visitors for more extended periods (>> one month) may be asked to give a series of lectures or to take over some other science-related tasks. Visitors are also requested to acknowledge support from the ESO Scientific Visitor Programme in any publication(s) resulting from the visit.