by Colin Jacobs <email@example.com>
I was recently fortunate enough to visit the ESO Paranal observatory for two nights of observing with the XShooter spectrograph. As a member of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) I'm an avid consumer of observational data but, at least until recently, less of a producer, making the two nights in visitor mode at the VLT a first for my PhD. We were awarded the two nights for follow-up of galaxy-galaxy strong lenses we discovered in DES using machine learning, hoping to get redshifts for both lens and source and enable some interesting follow-up science. In September, thanks to Astro3D, the ASA and Swinburne, I travelled to Paranal as CoI with my supervisor, Prof. Karl Glazebrook.
by Rob Wittenmyer <Rob.Wittenmyer@usq.edu.au>
For 5 weeks in September-October 2018, I was at ESO Santiago hosted by the Visiting Scientist program. For this "paper-writing retreat," I worked with Matias Jones, an ESO Fellow with whom I have collaborated for several years on the search for planets orbiting evolved stars.
by Caroline Foster
Dear fellow Australian astronomers,
This is an update from your Users Committee (UC) representative. My role is to represent Australian ESO users and act as the capillary link between ESO and the Australian community.
The ESO Users Committee met in April (UC42) to receive an update from ESO on various issues and to discuss a new set of recommendations.
I am a member of the Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) Panel A for Periods 102 and 103. My experience as an ESO user centers around my time spent working on a five year guaranteed time KMOS survey. During this time I observed at Paranal 3 times for a total of 11.5 nights and have been involved in follow-up proposals with MUSE, X-Shooter, and SINFONI. I have had successful PI proposals focused on galaxy evolution with KMOS, FLAMES, and X-shooter.
by Dilyar Barat <Dilyar.Barat@anu.edu.au>
Where it all began
When Australia became a strategic partner of the European Southern Observatory my PhD supervisor encouraged our group to actively think about proposal ideas. New telescopes and new instruments implied opportunities for new science. Within my team we came up with a few proposals, ranging from observing galaxy kinematics to investigating odd objects. The thought of submitting a proposal to ESO was quite intimidating as a student, not to mention that we decided to ambitiously ask for about 50 hours in grey/dark time on the VLT. Thanks to team effort, we were granted all the time requested in visitor mode, albeit broken into two runs - 3 nights in June, and 3 nights in August 2018.
by Stuart Ryder
In July 2018 I traveled to Cerro Paranal in Chile for half a night in Visitor Mode (VM) with X-Shooter on UT2 of the Very Large Telescope. Usually ESO does not permit VM runs of less than 1 night due to the overheads involved, and we were originally allocated the time in Designated Visitor Mode (dVM). However we were able to make the case for why an observer needed to be present on-site for these observations, so if you feel you have a case then you should contact the Observing Programmes Office. Here are a few more things I learned that you may find helpful when going to Chile to observe:
by Caroline Foster
I’ve seen that the results from the ESO time allocations for P102 are now out. Congratulations to all who successfully secured time on the ESO facilities!
It was a pleasure to see so many members of our community last week at the ASA. During my update, I mentioned that the latest recommendations from the ESO Users Committee meeting (26-27 April 2018) were nearly ready but still confidential. Well, you can now stop holding your breath as they are finally public. You may also read the Users Committee 2018 report - this includes the factsheet for Australia.
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that as your representative on the Users Committee, you may contact me at any time with any comments, concerns or issues with your experience using ESO facilities (other than technical). I note that ESO has an extensive website and provides quality technical support through its helpdesk, so if you have any technical issues, these are the best forums to get a quick resolution.
Finally, the ESO Science Newsletter is just out:
Remember to sign up as this is the best way to stay up to date on important ESO announcements.
by Caroline Foster
I’m Caroline Foster, the ESO Users Committee (UC) representative for Australia. This is a 3 year appointment (starting from the end of 2017) during which I will act as the capillary link between ESO and Australian users of ESO facilities.
For those who don’t know me just yet, I am an ASTRO3D Fellow at the University of Sydney working on the SAMI Galaxy Survey. Before that, I was the International Telescopes Support Office (ITSO) Research Fellow for 4 years and an ESO Fellow between 2011-2013 after completing my PhD from Swinburne University in 2007-2011. I have experience observing with many of the major optical facilities around the world (ESO VLT, AAT, Keck, Subaru, Gemini and Magellan). I have had the privilege to interact with a large cross-section of the Australian astronomer community during my role as an ITSO fellow and my PhD years, and have a very good understanding of the diversity of scientific interests and expertise within the community. If I haven’t had the opportunity to meet you yet, please feel free to introduce yourselves also.
by Mike Ireland
ESO is a large and complex organisation, which can be difficult to negotiate for a newcomer. It is relatively easy to find information about the available instrument suite, but can be more difficult to answer questions like: Which instruments are likely to be have the highest/lowest pressure factor (ESO’s word for oversubscription)? What new instruments are coming online, and on what timescale? How much time is taken up by guaranteed time observations (GTO) on my favourite instrument? Should I collaborate with a large program or GTO team? What new decisions are likely to be made that will affect my ability to use ESO? This post is intended to provide a summary of where to find answers to some of these questions.
Mike Ireland is the Australian representative on the ESO Science Technical Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org