European Southern Observatory


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European Southern Observatory

(ESO), an intergovernmental organization for astronomical research with headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany. The ESO began in 1962 as a consortium among Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Finland, Spain, Czech Republic, and Austria subsequently joined. The ESO operates three observatoriesobservatory,
scientific facility especially equipped to detect and record naturally occurring scientific phenomena. Although geological and meteorological observatories exist, the term is generally applied to astronomical observatories.
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 in the Atacama desert, Chile.

The oldest observatory, inaugurated in 1969, is located on Cerro La Silla at an altitude of about 8,000 ft (2,400 m). The initial instrument was a 142-in. (3.6-m) reflecting telescope, but in 1989 the 141-in. (3.58-m) New Technology Telescope (NTT) was installed. Its primary mirror is three times faster than the original and has only half its weight. It uses a principle called active optics, in which the optics are adjusted by computer to react to the changing seeingseeing,
in astronomy, the clarity with which stars and other celestial objects can be observed. It is primarily determined by the atmosphere of the earth. The most obvious phenomenon is twinkling, when the brightness of a star seems to fluctuate.
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 conditions of the night sky. Other instruments include a 86.6-in. (2.2-m) reflector, a 20-in. (0.5-m) reflector, a 39.4-in. (1-m) Schmidt camera telescope, twin 15.7-in. (0.4-m) astrographic telescopes, a 60-in. (1.52-m) spectrographic reflector, and a 39.4-in. (1-m) photometric reflector. Also located at Cerro La Silla are a 20-in. (0.5-m) reflector belonging to Denmark, a 23.5-in. (0.6 m) reflector used by the Univ. of Liège, Belgium, and the Univ. of Geneva, Switzerland, to search for exoplanets and comets, and a 24.4-in. (0.62-m) reflector belonging to the Univ. of Bochum, Germany.

The second observatory, initiated in 1988 and inaugurated in 1999, is located atop Cerro Paranal at an altitude of about 8,640 ft (2,635 m). The observatory is the home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) program. Begun in 1996, it links four 315-in. (8-m) telescopes, usually in groups of two or three, together with several movable 72-in. (1.8-m) telescopes through optical interferometry, a technique in which the signals from each telescope enhance the signals from the others. Completed in 2003, the combination produces a virtual telescopevirtual telescope,
a computerized interferometer (see interference) that merges the images from two or more telescopes to obtain a single, large, enhanced image. The image in each telescope is made from electromagnetic waves (light waves from an optical telescope, radio waves
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 image that is up to 25 times more detailed than an image produced by one of the individual telescopes. Also there is the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), which was constructed by a British university consortium and officially handed over to the ESO in 2009. VISTA is 13-ft (4-m) wide-field survey telescope and is equipped with a near infrared camera.

ESO's newest site is Chajnantor, located at an altitude of some 16,730 ft (5,100 m), where ESO, the National Radio Astronomy ObservatoryNational Radio Astronomy Observatory
(NRAO), federal observatory for radio astronomy, founded in 1956 and operated under contract with the National Science Foundation by Associated Universities, Inc., a group of major universities. The headquarters are at Charlottesville, Va.
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, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and other partners broke ground for the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in 2003. It began operations in 2011, and when completed will consist of an array of 66 39-ft (12-m) and 23-ft (7-m) radio telescopes. Also there is the APEX (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment) telescope, a 39-ft (12-m) submilliter radio telescope that is a collaboration among the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy, Onsala Space Observatory, and the ESO. It began operations in 2005.

Among the other programs of the observatory is the completion of the photographic Sky Survey for the Southern Hemisphere, in cooperation with the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. This project is a continuation of the work begun in the Northern Hemisphere with the Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory.

European Southern Observatory

(ESO) A European intergovernmental organization (members: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, and – since 2002 – the United Kingdom), founded in 1962. Its headquarters are at Garching, near Munich, where all activities have been concentrated since 1980. Its observatory is at La Silla, near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 meters; even in normal conditions the seeing is exceptional due to the clear dry stable climate.

The chief instruments at La Silla are the 3.5-meter New Technology Telescope (NTT), which began operating in 1989, and the older 3.6-meter telescope, sometimes referred to as the ‘360’, which started operations in 1977. The 3.6-meter telescope works at focal ratios of f/3, f/8, and f/32 at the prime, Cassegrain, and coudé foci, and f/35 for infrared work. The limiting magnitude is 24 or more. The NTT has even better resolution than the 1 arcsec of the 3.6-meter and was a pioneer in the use of active optics. The 3.6-meter was upgraded in 1996 with an improved adaptive optics system. There is also a 2.2-meter telescope, installed in 1983, which is identical to the one at Calar Alto, Spain; a 1-meter Schmidt telescope, operational since 1972 and involved in the Southern Sky Survey; and four telescopes of 1 to 1.5 meters. The 15-meter Sweden–ESO Submillimeter Telescope became operational in 1989.

The ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), completed in 2001, is sited at Cerro Paranal, Chile. The VLT is the ESO's premier site for optical and infrared observations.

References in periodicals archive ?
Boulon, J, Coutes, G, Dommanget, J, 1956, "Joint European Southern Observatory, Rapport au Comite, d'avril a septembre 1956", October, 1956, Prince Albert, SAAO Archives.
FINAL FRONTIER: Picture from the European Southern Observatory of The Hidden Fires of the Flame Nebula
Hot Star, Bright Nebula by the EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY
The European Southern Observatory, which the UK has recently joined, is studying a proposal for the project, aptly called the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope - OWL.
The Board also appointed a further five members alongside the President and Vice-Presidents to its "Bureau": Enric Banda (Spain, Secretary-General of the European Science Foundation), Graham Davies (United Kingdom, British Telecom, Head of International Relations at BT Exact Technologies), Catherine Cesarsky (France, Director-General of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), Elisabeth Jasulke (France, Lyonnaise des Eaux, cellule Ile de France) and Jens Rostrup-Nielsen (Denmark, Haldor Topsoe, Director of Research).
They hope to develop and promote long-term European-wide strategies by offering advice to agencies or institutions such as the European Science Foundation, and the European Commission; improve links and co-ordination between European astro-particle physics and scientific programmes of organisations, such as the European Laboratory for Particles Physics (CERN), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ECO); and get its views on astro-particle physics across in suitable international fora, such as the European Union, the OECD and UNESCO.
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the European Southern Observatory and the U.
West, who is now the spokesman for the European Southern Observatory.
In addition to the installation in Ireland, Sirsi has announced that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has also selected the Unicorn Collection Management System for the automation of their library in Garching, Germany.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is in the midst of designing the world's largest optical telescope with help from Autodesk Vault data management software, among other Autodesk, Inc.
Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), using the MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory, have found unexpected halos around all the 19 quasars they were observing.
Melendez said the discovery was made possible thanks to the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in northern Chile.

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