ESO Events

Past ESO events

See below for a summary of ESO-related news and events of particular relevance to the Australian user community.

Australian ESO Proposal Workshop 2024

In anticipation of the Period 114 proposal deadline on 21 March 2024, AAL and Australia’s ESO Scientific Technical Committee and Users Committee representatives (Michael Murphy and Sarah Sweet, respectively) organised an on-line ESO proposal writing workshop held on Thursday 7 March 2023. For the program and copies of the presentations slides, please visit the workshop web page.

Australian ESO Proposal Workshop 2022

In anticipation of the Period 111 proposal deadline at the end of September, AAL and Australia’s ESO Scientific Technical Committee and Users Committee representatives (Michael Murphy and Sarah Sweet, respectively) organised an on-line ESO proposal writing workshop held on Thursday 8 Sep 2022. For the program and copies of the presentations slides, please visit the workshop web page.

1st Australian BlueMUSE Workshop

Following on from the BlueMUSE Science Workshop on Nov 9-10 2020, AAO-Macquarie is organising the 1st Australian BlueMUSE Workshop on Wednesday 2 Dec 2020.

BlueMUSE is an instrument selected by ESO for its VLT2030 instrumental plan, with a Phase A starting no later than 2022. It is an optical seeing-limited, blue-optimised, medium spectral resolution, panoramic integral-field-spectrograph, to be installed on one of the telescopes of the VLT on Cerro Paranal (Chile). The project is an evolution of the technology used on the very successful MUSE instrument, but with a new and distinct science case.

This workshop aims at bringing together Australian researchers to discuss the key science cases in relation to the top-level requirements and capabilities of BlueMUSE. It is the mirror science workshop of the BlueMUSE Science Workshop. It is an opportunity to engage the community and push forward the BlueMUSE project.

The workshop program will include a few overview and invited talks but the large majority will be dedicated to individual contributions and scientific discussions. We are specifically seeking input from the community on science cases where BlueMUSE will have a strong impact due to its uniqueness.

******   Please, consider submitting a science talk about what BlueMUSE could do for you research before Nov 20th, although everyone is invited to attend.  ******  

The workshop will be held virtually over Zoom. There is no registration fee and no deadline for registration. Please, complete your registration submitting the Google Registration Form. The program will be released shortly after the abstract deadline.

La Silla Paranal Users Workshop 2020

ESO is organising the next La Silla Paranal Users Workshop as a series of online events. Part 1 will take place on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 September 2020.
If you are a La Silla Paranal Observatory user and are interested in:

  • the most up-to-date information
  • learning how to use the ESO Science Archive Facility, and
  • reducing ESO data or “face-to-face” contact with ESO experts working on various support services…

…then this is the workshop is for you! Further aspects on the various available instruments, the preparation of proposals and of the observations of the approved program will be dealt with in Part 2 and Part 3, foreseen to happen in 2021.
ESO Workshop – Part 1
Part 1 of the ESO Workshop series will provide the chance for users to have hands-on experience on topics of their choice, including but not restricted to:

  • finding information on the ESO web
  • installing ESO software
  • running the ESO pipelines, and
  • using the Science Archive Facility either to access data or return reduced data to the archive.

For this, participants are invited at registration to indicate areas of the program (preferred instruments, tools usage, etc.) they would like to further explore. Participants will then be split in groups, according to interest, or be provided with one-to-one sessions on a best-efforts basis.  
Each day will contain a couple of hours of presentations by videoconference, starting at the (not completely unreasonable) time of 10pm Sydney time, 8pm Perth time. This will be accompanied by an hour or so of “Bring Your Own Problem” time for face-to-face support with ESO data reduction. 
How to register for Part 1
Registration is free, but closes on 31 August 2020. Please visit the workshop home page for more information and a link to the Program. This is a unique opportunity to participate in an ESO workshop that is set up for fully remote participation, without the expectation of travel to ESO Headquarters.

First release of AAO-maintained ESO data reduction pipelines

In 2019 the Australian Astronomical Optics consortium signed a contract with ESO to take over maintenance and development of the current suite of data reduction pipelines for ESO facility instruments. On 3 June 2020 the first release of these pipelines to be overseen by the AAO-Macquarie software team took place. All ESO users are encouraged to update to this latest installation. In case of any difficulties with installation or usage, please contact [email protected].

ESO Studentship Program 2020

ESO awards several studentship positions each year in both Germany and Chile. The goal of the ESO studentship program is to connect PhD students and their supervisors throughout the ESO community with the activities and people at one of the world’s foremost observatories, and offers an invaluable training opportunity for the next generation of astronomers and users of ESO facilities. These positions are open to students enrolled in a university PhD programme, preferentially in an ESO member state or Strategic Partner like Australia, and a small number of Australian PhD students have already taken advantage of this opportunity.
Despite the current uncertainty regarding future international travel, due to the long lead-time with these programs we encourage all PhD supervisors to consider the benefits of such a placement within the ESO research and observatory support environment for their students. Consult the list of ESO supervisors and available projects, or contact one of the ESO astronomers in Garching or Santiago to discuss potential projects. To find out more, watch the special ESOcast “Fast Track Your Career with the ESO Studentship Program”, or visit the ESO Studentship page. The next application deadline is 31st May 2020.

ESO Observing Suspended due to COVID-19

Due to restrictions on travel within Chile related to the COVID-19 pandemic, science operations at all ESO observatory sites were suspended on 23 March 2020, and are not expected to resume before 3 May at the earliest. Regular updates on the situation and plans to restart observations can be found in the La Silla Paranal Observatory News page.

Call for ESO Observing Proposals in Period 106

On 27 Feb 2020 ESO released the Call for Proposals for Period 106 (for observations between 1 October 2020 – 31 March 2021). A summary of important changes can be found on our ESO Apply page.

MAVIS Science Workshop Australia 2019

An informal workshop was held from 4-6 December 2019 at Macquarie University dedicated to the science opportunities enabled by the unique capabilities of MAVIS – a new MCAO-Assisted Imager and Spectrograph for the VLT currently undergoing a Phase-A study for ESO. This workshop brought together the MAVIS scientific community to discuss the key science topics that can be addressed with MAVIS, with a view to building a refined science case for the instrument, and identifying key MAVIS observing programs that will deliver high-impact science. The workshop was hosted by the Macquarie University Research Centre for Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonics (MQAAAstro), and is complementary to the MAVIS science workshop held the previous month in Florence.

The 2nd ESO-Australia Joint Conference: The Build-up of Galaxies Through Multiple Tracers and Facilities

It is our please to announce the conference “The build-up of galaxies through multiple tracers and facilities” to be held in Perth, Australia, 17th-21st of February 2020, at the University of Western Australia. This is the second installment of the series of joint Australia-ESO conferences. Call for participants and speakers is open at
By 2020, we will have obtained the first major results from a huge variety of “pathfinder” facilities that are operating with entirely new types of survey instruments. These pathfinders have a common aim of untangling galaxy evolution physics, and so it is important that first science results are communicated across various disciplines. This is the main purpose of this second Australia-ESO conference, allowing us to start serious conversations about the future coordination of next-generation galaxy evolution surveys.
Key topics to be discussed during the conference include:
1) The baryon cycle in our own Galactic neighbourhood: what we have learned from galactic archaeology, and the interstellar and circumgalactic gas (and its accretion) in the Milky-Way and Magellanic Clouds.
2) The local Universe: the multi-phase baryon mass census (hot, cold, warm medium and stars and stellar halos), the baryon-halo connection, environmental effects on the ISM of galaxies, outflows/inflows locally.
3) Transients: a nascent avenue of learning about galaxy evolution, the intergalactic medium which is expected to grow immensely over the next few years, featuring Fast Radio Bursts, Gravity Waves, Gamma-ray bursts, and others.
4) Galaxies across time: physical processes leading to quenching and their effect on the gas reservoirs of galaxies, angular momentum evolution, and the black hole/galaxy co-evolution.
5) Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Reionisation: the census of z>4 galaxies (luminosity functions, dust content, star formation, interstellar medium), QSOs and radio activity, and evolution of the neutral hydrogen content.
We will provide childcare support to maximize participation of those with carer responsibilities. The deadline for contributed talks submission is 1st of October.

Upcoming ESO meetings: The VLT in 2030; and AI in Astronomy

There are a couple of meetings taking place at ESO Garching in mid-2019 that are likely to be of interest to the Australian community:

  • The VLT in 2030 (17 – 21 June 2019) – see Mike Ireland’s ESO blog post for more information about this.
  • Artificial Intelligence in Astronomy (22 – 26 July 2019) – the workshop will have two aims: present the current landscape of methods and applications in astronomy and prepare the next generations of astronomers to embark on these fields. Artificial intelligence covers a wide range of algorithms and the first thing is to provide a clear map to navigate in this jungle and show which techniques is used for which kind of science. A few invited talks by prominent speakers to clearly set the scene will be complemented by a series of contributed talks and posters in order to provide a clear panorama of the current use of AI in astronomy. In addition, several 3h-long tutorials and hands-on sessions will be offered to allow the participants to dig directly into the techniques.

ESO Proposal Writing Workshop 2019

As the ESO Period 104 proposal deadline of Thu 28 March approaches, AAL seeks to offer whatever assistance it can in enhancing the prospects of success for applicants in the ESO Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) process. Dr Richard McDermid from Macquarie University is currently chair of one of the OPC expert panels, and kindly offered to lead an interactive proposal writing session for anyone in Australia who would like to join in. This event took place via Zoom from 2:00-3:30pm AEDT (11:00-12:30 AWST) on Thursday 14 March 2019. A copy of Richard’s presentation about the OPC process and how to address the various sections of the proposal form is available. A recording of the session and discussion around Richard’s slides can be obtained on request from [email protected].

Call for ESO Observing Proposals in Period 104

On 28 Feb 2019 ESO released the Call for Proposals for Period 104 (for observations between 1 October 2019 – 31 March 2020). A summary of important changes can be found on our ESO Apply page.

ESO-Australia Joint Conference 2019: Linking Galaxies From The Epoch of Initial Star Formation to Today

The first ESO conference to be held outside of Europe or Chile took place at Rydge’s World Square in Sydney from 18-22 February 2019. The conference on the topic “Linking galaxies from the epoch of initial star formation to today” attracted more than 170 participants from across the planet. AAL congratulates AAO-Macquarie astronomer Tayyaba Zafar and her LOC colleagues for making this such a successful and informative conference. Plans are already underway to host another ESO conference in Australia in the near future.

ESO Summer Research Programme 2019

Applications are now open for the first round of the ESO Summer Research Programme, running for 6 weeks in July/Aug 2019. Undergraduate students in the areas of astronomy, physics, computer science, or mathematics who are Australian citizens are eligible to apply, with ESO covering all travel, accommodation, and stipend costs. Successful applicants will get to spend 6 weeks at ESO Headquarters in Garching working on a research project with ESO astronomers, participate in lectures and learn how an observatory like ESO operates. The deadline for applications is 22 Feb 2019.

Australia to lead MAVIS design study

Two partners in the Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) consortium – The Australian National University (ANU, AAO-Stromlo) and Macquarie University (AAO-MQ) – will lead the design phase of a new A$32 million adaptive optics system, called MAVIS (MCAO Assisted Visible Imager and Spectrograph) for UT4 of ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. Associate Professor Francois Rigaut, the Adaptive Optics Principal Scientist at ANU who is leading the international consortium, said the upgraded telescope would revolutionise ground-based optical astronomy and allow astronomers to see “sharper than the James Webb Space Telescope, and deeper than the Hubble Space Telescope”.

The 15-month design study – which will involve the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics and the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille in France, with ONERA (France) as an associated partner – will start in February 2019. The upgraded telescope is expected to be completed by 2025. A major part of the reward for the successful completion of the MAVIS project would be guaranteed nights of observation for the Australian astronomy community and project partners: 150 nights on the Very Large Telescope with MAVIS, which is equivalent in value to about $AU20 million. “ESO will add a contribution of A$12 million for the hardware, bringing the total value of the MAVIS adaptive-optics instrument to about A$32 million,” A/Prof. Rigaut said.

Call for ESO Observing Proposals in Period 103

On 1 Sep 2018 ESO released the Call for Proposals for Period 103 (for observations between 1 April – 30 September 2019). A summary of important changes can be found on our ESO Apply page.

ESO-Australia Joint Conference 2019 Registration Open

Each year ESO hosts and sponsors several conferences and workshops, usually held in Europe or Chile. Building on the Strategic Partnership with ESO, AAO-Macquarie will host the first ESO conference to be held in Australia. The conference on the topic “Linking galaxies from the epoch of initial star formation to today” will be held at Rydge’s World Square in Sydney from 18-22 February 2019. Registration closes on 4 January 2019.

MAVIS Workshop May 2018

The AAO hosted the MAVIS Science & Instrumentation workshop from 7–9 May 2018. MAVIS (MCAO Assisted Visible Imager & Spectrograph) is an ambitious concept for a new VLT instrument, offering near-diffraction limited capabilities at optical wavelengths over a field of view of 30″. The MAVIS consortium is led by ANU, together with the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) in Italy and the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille in France. More than 50 participants, including 15 from overseas, met to discuss potential science cases for MAVIS from among the 38 White Papers submitted, as well as tackling the technical challenges of the world’s only wide-field optical adaptive optics facility.
MAVIS Project Scientist Dr Richard McDermid (Macquarie University) outlines the science case for MAVIS. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.

ITSO/AAO Observational Techniques Workshop, May 2018

The AAO’s International Telescopes Support Office ran the 2018 Observational Techniques Workshop at the AAO from 30 April – 3 May 2018, with more than 40 registered participants. The workshop featured talks on everything from the basics of imaging and spectroscopy, to the use of infrared interferometry, and included 1.5 days devoted to ESO facilities and data reduction tutorials. ESO arranged for Lowell Tacconi-Garman (Deputy Head of the User Support Department), Martino Romaniello (Head of the Back-end Operations Department), and Wolfram Freudling (Head of the Science Data Products Group) to travel to Australia to lead these activities.
Lowell Tacconi-Garman demonstrates how to view ESO proposal outcomes. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.
Wolfram Freudling demonstrates the FORS2 data reduction pipeline. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.

La Silla Paranal Users Workshop March 2018

ESO held a La Silla Paranal Users Workshop on “Getting science done with your observatory” in Garching from 12-14 March 2018. This workshop featured overviews of the available instruments, the processes at work in ESO from proposal submission to data reduction, and accessing observations from the Science Archive. There were also hands-on tutorials in the use of ESO’s data reduction pipelines.

In order to engage with the large number of interested Australian users who were unable to travel to ESO Headquarters for this event, the AAO’s International Telescopes Support Office arranged for videoconference participation and recording of presentations using Zoom. Copies of the slide presentations as well as these recordings are available from the Workshop program page.

New ESO Director General visits Australia Feb 2018

The recently-appointed Director General of ESO, Prof. Xavier Barcons visited Australia the week of 12 Feb 2018. He was accompanied by Andreas Kaufer (Director of Operations for La Silla Paranal Observatory), Michèle Péron (Director of Engineering), and Laura Comendador Frutos (ESO Cabinet). They visited the AAO to view the various technologies under development for TAIPAN, GHOST, 4MOST, and MANIFEST; Macquarie University; Siding Spring Observatory; Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra; and ICRAR in Perth.
AAO engineer Rebecca Brown (right) explains the Starbugs tehnology to (L to R) Michele Peron, Andreas Kaufer, and Xavier Barcons from ESO. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.

ESO Community Days Sep 2017

In the lead up to the Period 101 proposal round (the first in which Australia participated as a Strategic Partner with ESO) the AAO’s International Telescopes Support Office (ITSO) coordinated a series of “ESO Community Days” around Australia, on behalf of ESO, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and AAL. The ESO Director for Science Dr Rob Ivison, and the Head of the Observing Programs Office at ESO Dr Ferdinando Patat, provided a comprehensive overview of the current and future observing facilities available, as well as the proposal preparation, submission, and assessment process. The sessions were held at:

Monday 18 Sep 2017: AAO, Sydney
Tuesday 19 Sep 2017: RSAA Mt Stromlo, Canberra
Wednesday 20 Sep 2017: Swinburne University, Melbourne
Thursday 21 Sep 2017: University of Western Australia, Perth
Friday 22 Sep 2017: University of Queensland, Brisbane

ESO Director for Science Rob Ivison presents the extensive range of instrumentation available at the Paranal Observatory. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.
Head of the ESO Observing Programmes Office Nando Patat explains why it’s never a good idea to leave your proposal submission until the last minute. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.

Australia and ESO sign Strategic Partnership agreement, July 2017

On the morning of Tuesday 11 July 2017, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, and Professor Tim de Zeeuw, the Director-General of the European Southern Observatory, signed the arrangement to allow Australia to enter into a 10 year Strategic Partnership with ESO. The event was officiated by the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University and Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt and the President of the Astronomical Society of Australia, Professor Virginia Kilborn, at the Astronomical Society of Australia’s 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting​. The official statement from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science can be found on the Department website.
Signatories of the ESO Strategic Partnership. From left to right: Virginia Kilborn, President of the Astronomical Society of Australia; Warrick Couch, Director of the Australian Astronomical Observatory; Sue Weston, Deputy Secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science; Tim de Zeeuw, ESO Director General; Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University; Laura Comendador, Head of the ESO Cabinet; and Patrick Geeraert, ESO Director of Administration.