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ESOcast 78: what is airglow and why do we see so much of it in the Paranal, Chile area?

The ESOcast 78 is here. ESO has a series of video podcasts in which they explain a ton of things from what a telescope if, to how a black hole works. In this newest ESOcast we learn about the airglow, the coloured light which can be seen at night.

In the last decades the airglow can be seen even more and more in the Paranal desert of Chile where ESO has a number of astronomical observatories like NTT, VLT and the AMLA microwave telescope.

Airglow has color red at about 100 km altitude and is greenish from 150-300 altitude. The color is given off by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules from the air after they have been in contact with UV light from the Sun during the day. Because of the UV light the oxygen and nitrogen molecules are broken apart and at night they try to form new bonds and thus release the red and green light from their atoms.

A nice thing to see, although it hinders astronomers from seeing distant stars.

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ALMA ESO Ultra HD Timelapse Compilation

The timelapse from above is from ALMA radiotelescope of ESO, that is located in Chile, in Paranal Desert, at about 5000 m altitude. The weather is almost the same throughout the entire year and the sky is clear all the time, making it the best spot for optic and radio telescopes.

ESO is at the forefront of astronomy by using ALMA and VLT, two of the best telescopes int he world. You go, ESO!

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Cosmic crimes: galaxy clusters pillaging travelling galaxies of their gas reserves

Dr. J, aka Joe Liske, a cool science guy working at ESO in several projects and among then as a science liaison for E-ELT and collaborating with ESA/Hubble, takes us through a journey into cosmic crimes. Somehow somewhere big guys like to bully galaxies and the NASA animation shows clearly how that works out for the lone galaxies.

These big cosmic bullies are galaxy clusters, clumps of galaxies bound together by gravity that travel as a group throughout the vastness of space. When galaxies meet such clusters, conflict ensues and the galaxies end up being victims.

In the video from above you can see galaxy cluster Abell 3627 as it pillages the lonely travelling spiral galaxy ESO 137-001. What you can see is that the galaxy cluster steals the gas from ESO 137-001 rendering this galaxy unable to form future stars and forcing it to become, after enough time, a spherical galaxy.

So, bad boys are on cosmic scales too. Not good 😀

Subscribe to Hubble/ESA on Youtube for more cosmic science.

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Hot right now: the ESO song #esosong

The great guys from ESO, you know, the ones that run the VLT and will build the E-ELT, the greatest telescope humanity has even seen, have created a song called: ESO song.

ESOs ground telescopes from Chile, Paranal dessert, have helped hundreds of astronomers chart and analyze the Universe. ESO was also the first to discover an exoplanet using VLT in 2004. See the image of that first discovered exoplanet below:

Credit ESO.

About the ESO song:

The idea came from Francoise Delplanke – Strobeble and Simon Lowery as an initiative to show that Astronomy and the people working in E.S.O. are fun.
This was totally funded by ourselves with some private donations made by the ESO management and some fundraising by the stars of the video

Thanks Oana for sharing.

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ESO 2014 Calendar is here

As 2013 is ending ESO has already prepared the ESO 2014 calendar and has, as always, breathtaking pictures of stars, sky, galaxies, and of the observatories that it manages.

14 pages of awesomeness await you in this PDF here. Print it, copy it, share it, love it.

On the cover image you can see the spectacular star-forming Carina Nebula has been captured in great detail by the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. This picture was taken with the help of Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile, during his visit to the observatory on 5 June 2012 and released on the occasion of the new telescope’s inauguration in Naples on 6 December 2012.

The individual images of the ESO 2014 calendar can be seen at this link.

Of the images form the calendar I like most the one with the E-ELT:

and the one with the stellar nursery IC 2944:

Way to go ESO.


ESO. Acknowledgement: VPHAS+ Consortium/ Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

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Happy birthday ESO: 50 years of European awesomeness

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ESO, the European Southern Observatory, celebrates today 50 years of existence. During this time it has amazed the entire world with awesome pictures of the deep sky, it has observed the first exoplanet and showed that the Universe is, indeed, expanding.

It has also found the oldest star in our Milky Way. See the list of 10 greatest things here.

Today they are doing a live webcast named A Day in the Life of ESO (timetable links here) and you can ask the scientists directly your astronomy questions. Follow ESO on Facebook and Twitter.

There will be live observations from ESO’s flagship observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT), on Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert, as well as fascinating talks from astronomers at ESO’s Headquarters in Germany.

You can ask your questions in these 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.
  • Happy B-Day ESO and another 50 years of space glory!

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ESO@50 – what questions would you like me to ask?

With some careful planification I got to ESO@50, the bigger astronomical event of the year. ESO is celebrating 50 years of existence and has invited dozens of scientists to show off their work and the advancements of astronomy in these years with the help of ESO.

The above streaming will be just fine for the astronomy fans who cannot be here.

So, what questions would you like me to ask here?

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Gone to ESO@50, in Germany


Although I am not even an amateur astronomer I cannot help but wonder what knowledge have supernovas, black holes, gravity, superclusters of galaxies to offer. I will be attending the workshop at ESO@50 and hopefully I will learn something new and grad some interviews 😀

Until I get some time to post anoter article here simply enjoy the following time lapse video :


Breathtaking ISS time lapse [Bonus: ESO offers prises]

Earth {ISS-Timelapse} – Rise from Joan is absolutely amazing. I was a bit disapointed at first with that overwhelming speed in the video, but then it got really interesting. Could not help it and needed to post it here.

This new time lapse of ISS reminds me why we need to go over any boundaries to get to the stars. You can do your own time lapse video with the pictures offfered freely by NASA here.

And while we’re as astronmy level here is the Bonus> ESO- Europe Southern Obervatory offers several prises, among them an iPAD and a journey to the VLT telescope in Paranal, Chile. For this you need to click the image below and then take part in the two competitions in there. What did you chose VLT to scout in the sky and what meesage have you tweeted to @ESO with the reason you want to go to Paranal? Enjoy!

Time lapse video via LINK.


Amazing time lapse video at European South Observatory

Atacama Starry Nights: Episode I from Babak Tafreshi on Vimeo.

This amazing time lapse video was featured on National Geographic and I couldn’t miss it. The pictures were taken in Chile, in the Atacama Desert.

Babak Tafreshi and Christoph Malin made 7500 pictures of the surrounding area of the telescopes from European South Obrservatory and put up this piece of art. I really enjoyed it. Hope you too. Via [Slowmotion & Timelapse Theater].