The European Southern Observatory invites online visitors to an astronomical event

Virtual tourists from around the world can take an unprecedented look inside several of Chile’s key astronomical observatories on Friday, October 5.

In a live-streaming webcast, the European Southern Observatory – ESO – will present “A Day in the Life of ESO,” consisting of six hours of lectures and interviews, a virtual real-time astronomical observation, and a movie about ESO.

“A Day in the Life of ESO” celebrates the organization’s 50th anniversary, marking a historical legacy of scientific achievement and advancement within the astronomical community.

The day kicks off at 6:00 a.m. (Chilean time), with the beaming of the online audience into the control room of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), located in Paranal, Chile, for live observation of the ethereal Thor’s Helmet Nebula – a striking stellar body visible from the southern hemisphere.

Talks will include an introduction by ESO’s Director Tim de Zeeuw at 7:00 a.m. (Chilean time); a description of life as an astronomer by Joana Ascenso at 7:35 a.m.; an update on the ALMA project by Leonardo Testi at 8:10 a.m.; an update on La Silla and Paranal by Olivier Hainaut at 8:43 a.m.; an examination by Nando Patat at 9:17 a.m. on the emotions invoked by astronomy; a speech about the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) by Joe Liske; and a lecture about the search for exoplanets is scheduled at 10:27 a.m.

The documentary “Europe to the Stars” will be shown throughout the webcast in multiple segments, interspersed between other featured activities.

The web event concludes with a virtual visit to the Paranal platform at 11:01, where the VLT telescopes will be displayed against an astronomically-scenic Atacama Desert backdrop. A Q&A session and the results of the Thor’s Helmet Nebula observing session will be presented.

An interactive event

ESO invites the public to send questions about topics related to “A Day in the Life of ESO” via social media and email, before and during the event.

Twitter inquiries can be directed to @ESO or by using the hashtag #ESO50years.

Questions can be posted on your Facebook wall, tagging the ESO Facebook page by including “@ESO Astronomy” in the text of the question.

Email questions should be sent to with “ESO50years” as the subject.

The Paranal observing portion of the webcast will include additional evidence of ESO’s interactive outreach efforts: Brigitte Bailleul – winner of a prior social media contest – is being flown to Chile to assist in telescope operation for the live audience.

Related activities throughout Chile

Increasing ESO’s global impact, related activities will be held in physical locations around the world, including several Chilean sites from Antofagasta to Santiago. A complete list of venues is provided by ESO here.

How to connect

For a detailed schedule of presentations and instructions for participating, visit ESO’s website.

The webcast can be viewed beginning at 09:00 UT (6:00 a.m. Chilean time) on October 5, via ESO’s Livestream page.

By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel

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