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ESOcast 45 Special: Reaching Out

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Hello and welcome to this special episode of the ESOcast. Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we will showcase eight special features portraying ESO’s first 50 years of exploring the southern sky. Reaching out Stephane Guisard loves the stars. No wonder he loves northern Chile, too. Here, the view of the Universe is amongst the best in the world. And no wonder he loves the European Southern Observatory — Europe’s eye on the sky. Stephane is a prize-winning French photographer and author. He is also one of ESO’s Photo Ambassadors. In breathtaking pictures, he captures the solitude of the Atacama desert, the high-tech perfection of giant telescopes, and the magnificence of the night sky. Like his fellow photo ambassadors from all over the world, Stephane helps in spreading ESO’s message. A message of curiosity, wonder and inspiration, proclaimed through cooperation and outreach. Cooperation has always been the basis of ESO’s success. Fifty years ago, the European Southern Observatory started out with five founding member states: Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Soon, other European countries followed. Denmark in 1967. Italy and Switzerland in 1982. Portugal in 2001. The United Kingdom in 2002. Over the past decade, Finland, Spain, the Czech Republic and Austria also joined Europe’s largest astronomy organisation. Most recently, Brazil became ESO’s 15th Member State, and the first non-European country to join. Who knows what the future will bring? Together, the Member States enable the best possible astronomical science at the world’s largest observatories. It’s good for their economies, too. ESO closely cooperates with industry, in both Europe and Chile. Access roads had to be constructed. Mountain tops had to be levelled. The Italian industrial consortium AES built the main structure of the four VLT telescopes. Each telescope weighs in at some 430 tonnes. They also constructed the giant enclosures, each as high as a ten-storey building. The German glass company Schott produced the delicate VLT mirrors — over eight metres wide and just twenty centimetres thick. At REOSC in France, the mirrors were polished to a precision of a millionth of a millimetre, before they made the long journey to Paranal. Meanwhile, universities and research institutes across Europe developed sensitive cameras and spectrometers. ESO’s telescopes are built with taxpayers' money. Your money. And so you can take part in the excitement. For example, ESO’s website is a rich source of astronomical information, including thousands of beautiful pictures and videos. Also, ESO produces magazines, press releases, and video documentaries such as the one you’re watching right now. And throughout the world, the European Southern Observatory contributes to exhibitions and science fairs. Countless ways to participate in the discovery of the cosmos! Did you know that the names of the four VLT telescopes were thought up by a young Chilean girl? 17-year old Jorssy Albanez Castilla suggested the names Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun – meaning Sun, Moon, Southern Cross and Venus in the Mapuche language. Involving school children and students like Jorssy is important. That’s where ESO’s educational activities come in, like student exercises and school lectures. When the planet Venus passed in front of the Sun in 2004, a special programme was aimed at European students and teachers. And in 2009, during the International Year of Astronomy, ESO reached millions of school children and students all over the world. After all, today’s children are tomorrow’s astronomers. But in terms of outreach, nothing beats the Universe itself. Astronomy is a visual science. Images of galaxies, star clusters and stellar nurseries fire our imagination. When not doing science, ESO's telescopes are sometimes used for the Cosmic Gems Programme — taking pictures just for the purpose of education and public outreach. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. The general public can even take part in creating these staggering images, through the Hidden Treasures competitions. Russian astronomy enthusiast Igor Chekalin won the competition in 2010. His marvellous images are based on real science data. Member states, industry and universities. By cooperating on all possible levels, ESO has become one of the most successful astronomy organisations in the world. And through its engagement with the public, you are invited to join the adventure. The Universe is yours to discover. This is Dr J, signing off from this special episode of 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: 9 minutes and 2 seconds
Country: Germany
Language: English
Producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen
Director: Lars Lindberg Christensen
Views: 168
Posted by: esoastronomy on Jun 13, 2012

Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. ESOcast 45 — entitled Reaching Out — is the fifth special episode of this series. In it we focus on ESO’s message. A message of curiosity, wonder and inspiration. Proclaimed through cooperation and outreach, it has been the basis of ESO’s success during the past fifty years. More information and credits:

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