The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is officially 50 years old today and this morning, for the first time ever, observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope were made of an object chosen by the public. The winner of an anniversary competition pointed the VLT towards the spectacular Thor’s Helmet Nebula and the observations were broadcast live over the Internet. 

The signing of the ESO Convention on October 5th, 1962 and the foundation of ESO was the culmination of the dream of astronomers from five European countries; Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. They had decided to join forces with the primary goal of building a large telescope that would give them access to the southern sky.


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