From European Southern Observatory: “Ireland to Join the European Southern Observatory”

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From European Southern Observatory

26 September 2018
Calum Turner
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

Ireland signs agreement to become ESO’s 16th Member State.

The Irish flag is hoisted for the first time at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, signifying Ireland becoming a Member State of ESO once the ratification process is complete. The flag joins those of the other Member States, taking the total number up to 16. Credit: ESO

On 26 September, John Halligan T.D., Irish Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development and Xavier Barcons, Director General of ESO signed the Accession Agreement that will lead to Ireland joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO) — the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. ESO is looking forward to welcoming Ireland and will work with the nation’s astronomers and industry to advance the cutting edge of astronomy.

Irish astronomers are set to gain access to the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes following the signature of Ireland’s Accession Agreement in Dublin today, 26 September 2018. The signing of the Agreement follows the unanimous approval of Irish membership by the ESO Council at a meeting on 6 June 2018.

The formal ratification process for Irish membership of ESO has already almost been completed, following the approval of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann — the Irish National Assembly and Senate. This process will be fully completed once the instrument of ratification — an official document — is deposited at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is expected to happen within a matter of days. The day of the deposit will be the official date of the Irish accession to ESO.

“We are delighted to welcome Ireland as the newest member of our organisation” stated ESO’s Director General, Xavier Barcons. “Ireland’s mature and thriving astronomical community will add to the broad variety of expertise in the ESO Member States, strengthening ESO’s position at the forefront of global astronomy. Irish astronomers will gain access to a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes and will have the opportunity to be part of the construction of the next generation of ESO instruments in partnership with other ESO Member States. We are also very much looking forward to working with Irish industrial partners to build and operate ESO’s state-of-the-art telescopes.”

The accession cements the position of Ireland’s astronomical research community as an asset to worldwide astronomy. With the ESO Membership, Ireland gets access to ESO’s world-class suite of telescopes and instruments, including the Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Paranal and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) at Chajnantor, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the construction of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) in coming years.

By joining ESO, Ireland adds to their already rich astronomical history, stretching back centuries. For several decades in the 19th century, Ireland hosted the world’s largest telescope — the Leviathan of Parsonstown — a 1.8-metre reflecting telescope at Birr Castle (whose grounds are now home to I-LOFAR, port of a Europe-wide low-frequency radio telescope).

Leviathan of Parsonstown – Offaly, Ireland – Atlas Obscura. Wikipdia

I-Lofar Ireland I-Lofar- Birr’s low-frequency radio telescope

Ireland’s vibrant research community and high-tech industrial sector have supported ESO membership for many years, and will now gain access to a range of instrumentation and industrial opportunities as a result of ESO membership.

Speaking at the signing, Minister Halligan welcomed this important step in Ireland’s membership process: “I am delighted to have signed this membership agreement with the European Southern Observatory. This represents the culmination of significant work by the Government and ESO as well as the Irish astrophysics community. As a member of the leading astronomical research organisation in the world, Ireland has an opportunity to gain access to excellent research, innovation, collaboration and industry contracts. This significant investment in our scientific community demonstrates the Irish Government’s continued commitment to research and development in both our academic and industrial sectors.”

See the full article here .


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ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre EEuropean Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

ESO La Silla HELIOS (HARPS Experiment for Light Integrated Over the Sun)

ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

ESO/Cerro LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

ESO/NTT at Cerro La Silla, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres

ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

ESO/APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)

Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres