Public Release: 

6-hour webcast with live very large telescope observations for ESO's 50th anniversary


For the first time in ESO's history, the VLT will be pointed towards an object in the sky selected by members of the public -- the Thor's Helmet Nebula (NGC 2359). This striking nebula was selected as part of the Choose What the VLT Observes competition. Brigitte Bailleul, from France, won the Tweet Your Way to the VLT! competition, and will travel to the Paranal Observatory in Chile to help make the observations. The live link to Paranal will show the observations and the telescopes on the mountaintop, in the stunning landscape of the Atacama Desert, letting viewers join Brigitte on her trip of a lifetime.

The webcast will be streamed free of charge through Livestream, and anyone may view it simply by visiting ESO's Livestream page. By creating a free Livestream account, and following ESO, viewers will receive updates and reminders for this and future Livestream events from ESO.

Furthermore, venues across ESO's Member States and beyond are hosting public events on 5 October, with a wide range of local activities supplementing the webcast. A list of ESO 50th Anniversary event venues is available online.

The webcast will run from 11:00 to 17:00 (CEST) on 5 October. It will be hosted by astronomer -- and host of the ESOcasts -- Dr J (Dr Joe Liske, from ESO). In addition to the live link to the Paranal Observatory in Chile, there will be talks from astronomers at ESO's Headquarters in Germany, on topics ranging from ESO's state-of-the-art telescopes, via the latest news from the frontiers of astronomy, to what the life of an astronomer is like. Chapters from ESO's anniversary movie, Europe to the Stars, will also be shown. Throughout the day there will be question and answer sessions, and the chance to test your ESO knowledge in a quiz to win some astronomical prizes!

This webcast gives viewers a unique opportunity to see inside the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory, as we celebrate ESO's first 50 years of exploring the southern sky.

Members of the public are invited to ask questions about the activities at the Paranal Observatory, the talks of the day, or general questions about ESO. You can send us your questions before the event, or during the webcast, in English in the following ways:

  • Send a tweet @ESO, also using the hashtag #ESO50years
  • Write a question on your Facebook wall in which you tag ESO's Facebook page ( To tag a page you must first "like" the page and then type @ESO Astronomy in your question. A menu will appear from where you have the option to choose our page, ESO Astronomy. See an example of a tag ("via ESO Astronomy") on this post:
  • Send an email to with the subject ESO50years. Optionally, please include your name and country.




Douglas Pierce-Price
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6759

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.