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ESOcast 7: Behind the scenes of

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Is it possible to visit all major observatories in the world, covering every continent, in the space of just 24 hours? ESO made a trip “Around the World in 80 Telescopes” during a live 24-hour webcast. Let’s go behind the scenes to find out how it was done. This is the ESOcast! Cutting-edge science and life behind the scenes of ESO, the European Southern Observatory. Exploring the Universe’s ultimate frontier with our host Dr J, a.k.a. Dr Joe Liske. Hello and welcome to the ESOcast. In this episode we're going to follow an incredible 24-hour live webcast that was produced at the ESO headquarters on April 3rd and 4th 2009. This webcast was called "Around the World in 80 Telescopes" and it attracted well over 100 000 online viewers. The webcast was part of "100 Hours of Astronomy”, a Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Let’s now go backstage to see how this record-breaking event unfolded. The ESO headquarters in Garching, near Munich in Germany, is hosting the live 24-hour webcast that will follow night and day around the globe and visit some 80 different observatories on the way. This is a major technical and logistical challenge; preparations have been underway for months and with one day left to go, the pressure is on to get things ready. After a long, final night of testing, the morning of the webcast is here. The atmosphere is buzzing and the project leader, Douglas Pierce-Price, is pleased with the preparations. This is the culmination of a lot of extremely hard work by people here at ESO and of course at all the observatories around the planet that we'll be visiting during this amazing 24-hour live webcast. Things are very, very busy behind the scenes but we're getting things in place, we're almost ready to go, and we're looking forward to it. Before we delve into the rest of the day, what does it actually take to run a live webcast like this? Well, apart from having many wonderful observatories around the world to visit, you need a project leader that remains calm under pressure, a first-class production team, hilarious technical experts that put our guests at the observatories at ease, top notch autocue operators, a web team, a professional looking set and six attention-starved presenters. Oh, and, of course, an on-set blogger! Just a few minutes before the start of the webcast, and some final adjustments are made. The Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii will be the first stop in a long journey around the world. Everybody is in position as the webcast begins. Hello. You're joining us for "Around the World in 80 Telescopes" — a live 24-hour webcast. The webcast is a unique chance to experience a snapshot of life at many different observatories around the globe and to find out what astronomers are actually doing at the telescopes and what they hope to discover. However, like many live events, the webcast is not without initial setbacks. Just over an hour into the broadcast, the streaming provider has a problem, leaving a blank screen for the thousands of viewers. All is not lost as the webcast continues with segments being recorded and uploaded online. Lee Pullen of the Cosmic Diary, another Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, is writing a behind-the-scenes LiveBlog. His posts keep the audience informed, so nobody is left completely in the dark. After a tense and stressful half hour, we're back on air! Once again the telescope tour is on track. With 24 hours of constant airtime, the webcast team work in shifts. People swap in and out of their positions, ensuring a continuous presence. The webcast is running smoothly, so Douglas takes an early evening break to eat a quick meal. The menu for the event was carefully chosen, in order to keep the team happy through the long hours. Although the team could have had a selection of local Bavarian dishes, they opted for a range of international foods, in honour of the event. Over halfway through the webcast, the day has gone well. Viewers watching from all over the world have e-mailed in feedback and questions to be read out by our hosts on air. And this is a question from Julie who writes in from the UK... The night shift team keep things running in the early hours, while Douglas finally gets just one hour of well-deserved rest. The dawn of the next day marks the final stages of the webcast. The tired and slightly delirious team receives a much needed boost when the video from the Vatican Observatory is broadcast. Even after 20 hours, the team's spirit is still high. Finally, the webcast is over. And so this brings us, after 24 hours of webcasting to the end of "Around the World in 80 Telescopes"... With more than 24 hours of continuous interviews completed, the time has come to celebrate the successful event with a glass of champagne. I hope you enjoyed the look behind the scenes of “Around the World in 80 Telescopes”. It was an incredible event, but I’m sure there will be other spectacular outreach activities from ESO in the future. This is Dr J signing off for the ESOcast. Join me again next time for another cosmic adventure. ESOcast is produced by ESO, the European Southern Observatory. ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the pre-eminent intergovernmental science and technology organisation in astronomy designing, constructing and operating the world's most advanced ground-based telescopes. Transcription by ESO ; translation by —

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 57 seconds
Country: Germany
Language: English
Director: Herbert Zodet
Views: 232
Posted by: esoastronomy on Jan 28, 2010

Is it possible to visit all major observatories in the world, covering every continent, in the space of just 24 hours? ESO made a trip "Around the World in 80 Telescopes" during a live 24-hour webcast. Let's go behind the scenes to find out how it was done.

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Credits: Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada. Cinematography: Peter Rixner. Editing: Herbert Zodet. Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida. Written by: Catherine Moloney, Herbert Zodet, Lars Lindberg Christensen and Douglas Pierce-Price. Host: Dr. J. Narration: Gaitee Hussain. Music: movetwo. Footage and photos: ESO. Directed by: Herbert Zodet.

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