ESO Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Contests
August 9, 2012

ESO Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary With VLT Competitions

[ Watch the Video: Moon Setting over ESO´s Paranal Observatory ]

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is having its 50th anniversary on October 5, 2012, and ESO is hosting two competitions to celebrate the event.

ESO builds and operates some of the most advanced telescopes on Earth, including the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. These huge machines have made many fascinating discoveries about the Universe, and ESO is the most productive ground-based observatory in the world by far.

Choose What the VLT Observes

Usually, astronomers have to prepare a detailed plan long in advance, describing why they want to use the VLT. Only a small fraction of those plans are given the chance to become reality. But for you, it's going to be easier.

ESO has preselected 16 celestial objects that are visible in the sky on the night of the anniversary and fit in VLT's field of view. All you need to do is cast your vote for the object you like most. The one that gets the most votes will be observed using the VLT on the 50th anniversary day.

ESO will draw the winner and ten runners up from among those who voted (you do not have to have voted for the winning object). The winner will receive one of the latest iPads and the runners up will receive ESO products including books, DVDs, and other goodies.

Tweet Your Way to the VLT

Now, what about a chance to visit the VLT and make the observation of the winning celestial object yourself?

The ESO invites you to Tweet (in any official language of an ESO Member State) the reason why you would like to visit the VLT at ESO's Paranal Observatory. A panel of judges will pick the lucky winner, who will be offered a trip to Chile, including travel and accommodation. The winner will visit the VLT in time for ESO's 50th anniversary on October 5, 2012 and be the one who observes the selected celestial object from the Choose What the VLT Observes contest.

The observations will be streamed live to viewers around the world.

The deadline for both competitions is August 31, 2012 at 23:59:59 CEST (5:59:59 EDT). Detailed rules and information is available for both competitions on the ESO website.