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Emiel Lops

Ewine van Dishoeck interviews minister Dijkgraaf - Astronomy celebrates 60 years of ESO

With a special symposium at Museum Boerhaave, ESO celebrated its 60th anniversary on Monday, 26 September. More than 100 scientists, politicians and people from industry were present to look back on collaborations, milestones and discoveries. Leiden astrochemist Ewine van Dishoeck was one of the presenters.

ESO Director General Xavier Barcons received an exceptional gift from NOVA for ESO's 60th anniversary: a specially engraved version of one of the first parts for MICADO: an instrument on ESO's Extremely Large Telescope under construction in northern Chile. The Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) is responsible for Micado's complex cryogenic filter wheel; the donated part is designed for its suspension.

In dialogue with minister Dijkgraaf

Presiding over the event were NOVA Scientific Director Amina Helmi, Executive Director Michiel Rodenhuis and NOVA Ambassador Ewine van Dishoeck. Van Dishoeck closed the day with an interview with Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science.. Herein she emphasised the importance of the structural cooperation between Dutch astronomy and ESO in various areas of expertise.

What is ESO?

ESO: the European Southern Observatory was founded 60 years ago as an international organisation for astronomy. ESO, located in the southern hemisphere now, has 16 member countries. ESO builds and manages the most powerful and advanced telescopes in northern Chile, which European, and therefore Dutch, astronomy makes full use of for scientific research. The conditions (dark, high and dry) make northern Chile an excellent area for astronomical research.

The eyes and ears of the telescope

Attached to the giant telescopes, such as the Very Large Telescope on Mount Paranal, the Extremely Large Telescope under construction on Mount Armazones and the large array of ALMA dishes on the Chajnantor Plateau are many instruments (the telescope's "ears and eyes") to perform astronomical observations. The Netherlands has contributed to the development and construction of these instruments for all facilities. NOVA engineers and project managers are also working on the technologically advanced and challenging instrumentation for the future ELT, which is expected to begin operation later this decade. Dutch astronomers have already made many amazing discoveries using the facilities. 

For the original press release and a complete photo report, see the website of Astronomie.nl: Sterrenkunde viert 60 jaar ESO.

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