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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

6-Hour Webcast For ESO’s 50th Anniversary With Live Very Large Telescope Observations

September 29, 2012
Image Credit: ESA

On 5 October 2012, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will broadcast A Day in the Life of ESO, a free, live event on the web, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations. There will be live observations from ESO´s flagship observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT), on Cerro Paranal in Chile´s Atacama Desert, as well as fascinating talks from astronomers at ESO´s Headquarters in Germany. Members of the public are invited to ask questions in advance of the event, or during the stream, by Facebook, Twitter, and email. A timetable for the webcast is available below and online.

For the first time in ESO´s history, the VLT will be pointed towards an object in the sky selected by members of the public – the Thor´s Helmet Nebula (NGC 2359). This striking nebula was selected as part of the Choose What the VLT Observes competition. Brigitte Bailleul, from France, won the Tweet Your Way to the VLT! competition, and will travel to the Paranal Observatory in Chile to help make the observations. The live link to Paranal will show the observations and the telescopes on the mountaintop, in the stunning landscape of the Atacama Desert, letting viewers join Brigitte on her trip of a lifetime.

The webcast will be streamed free of charge through Livestream, and anyone may view it simply by visiting ESO´s Livestream page. By creating a free Livestream account, and following ESO, viewers will receive updates and reminders for this and future Livestream events from ESO.

Furthermore, venues across ESO´s Member States and beyond are hosting public events on 5 October, with a wide range of local activities supplementing the webcast. A list of ESO 50th Anniversary event venues is available online.

The webcast will run from 11:00 to 17:00 (CEST) on 5 October. It will be hosted by astronomer – and host of the ESOcasts – Dr J (Dr Joe Liske, from ESO). In addition to the live link to the Paranal Observatory in Chile, there will be talks from astronomers at ESO´s Headquarters in Germany, on topics ranging from ESO´s state-of-the-art telescopes, via the latest news from the frontiers of astronomy, to what the life of an astronomer is like. Chapters from ESO´s anniversary movie, Europe to the Stars, will also be shown. Throughout the day there will be question and answer sessions, and the chance to test your ESO knowledge in a quiz to win some astronomical prizes!

This webcast gives viewers a unique opportunity to see inside the world´s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory, as we celebrate ESO´s first 50 years of exploring the southern sky.

Members of the public are invited to ask questions about the activities at the Paranal Observatory, the talks of the day, or general questions about ESO. You can send us your questions before the event, or during the webcast, in English in the following ways:

  • Send a tweet @ESO, also using the hashtag #ESO50years
  • Write a question on your Facebook wall in which you tag ESO’s Facebook page. To tag a page you must first “like” the page and then type @ESO Astronomy in your question. A menu will appear from where you have the option to choose our page, ESO Astronomy. See an example of a tag (“via ESO Astronomy”) on this post
  • Send an email to information@eso.org with the subject ESO50years. Optionally, please include your name and country.

The current webcast schedule is below, and in the event of changes between now and 5 October, the updated schedule – as well as other information about the webcast – is available on ESO´s anniversary webcast page. The language of the webcast will be English. As this is a live event, times may change slightly.

Start (CEST)     Start (UT)     Start (Chile time)     Description
11:00     09:00     06:00     Introduction to webcast
11:02     09:02     06:02     Live link to VLT Control Room on Paranal; Introduction to ESO, Paranal, and the VLT; Paranal Control Room;    Competition winner Brigitte Bailleul; ESO Astronomer Henri Boffin
11:07     09:07     06:07     Live VLT Observations of Thor’s Helmet Nebula, with Q&A
11:49     09:49     06:49     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 1 – Going South
12:00     10:00     07:00     Talk: ESO and its 50th Anniversary, by ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw
12:25     10:25     07:25     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 2 – Looking Up
12:35     10:35     07:35     Talk: Life as an astronomer, by Joana Ascenso
13:00     11:00     08:00     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 3 – Seeing Sharp
13:10     11:10     08:10     Talk: The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), by Leonardo Testi
13:35     11:35     08:35     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 4 – Changing Views
13:43     11:43     08:43     Talk: La Silla and Paranal, by Olivier Hainaut
14:08     12:08     09:08     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 5 – Reaching Out
14:17     12:17     09:17     Talk: Astronomy and Emotions, by Nando Patat
14:42     12:42     09:42     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 6 – Catching Light
14:53     12:53     09:53     Talk: The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), by Joe Liske
15:18     13:18     10:18     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 7 – Finding Life
15:27     13:27     10:27     Talk: Exoplanets (tbc)
15:52     13:52     10:52     Movie: Europe to the Stars, Chapter 8 – Building Big
16:01     14:01     11:01     Live link to Paranal platform; See the giant VLT telescopes on the mountaintop and the surrounding Atacama Desert; Q&A; See the processed results of the previous live observations.
17:00     15:00     12:00     End of webcast

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Source: ESA