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ESO/L. Calçada

About Us

Ambassadors for Astronomy (ESO Science Ambassadors)

We are research fellows and PhD students (both past and present) from the European Southern Observatory (ESO). We are all active scientists or engineers and we have started a project to visit science festivals, schools, public observatories and scientific conferences. We will be working with local educators and science communicators in each country to raise of astronomical discoveries and technological developments. We have a particular goal to engage minority and under-represented groups with astronomy. The project includes donating hands-on educational workshop equipment based around telescopes, infrared astronomy and exoplanets.

In 2019 we are working in partnership with the International Astronomical Uninion (IAU), who are supporting us under one of their Special IAU100 projects ("Ambassadors for Astronomy"). To celebrate 100 years of the IAU, they are organising a year-long celebration to increase awareness of a century of astronomical discoveries as well as to support and improve the use of astronomy as a tool for education, development and diplomacy under the central theme "Under One Sky". ESO, based in offices in Munich Germany and Santiago Chile, is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in the world's most productive astronomical observatory. The next major project for ESO is the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) that will contain a 39m main mirror made up of 798 individual hexagon segments! With operations starting in mid 2020s, this will be the largest telescope in the world observing optical and infrared light - it will be the "Biggest Eye on the Sky".

The shared goals of the IAU100 project and the ESO ambassadors include:
(1) Raising awareness of the importance of collaborative enterprise of astronomy.
(2) Raising awarness of the importance of technology development for astronomical progress.
(3) Supporting and improving use of astronomy as an educational tool.
(4) Supporting and improving an inclusive and diverse community.

Only with international collaboration can an incredible vision such as ESO's Extremely Large Telescope become a reality. Our ambassadors have worked at ESO and will visit their home countries to share their passion and enthusiasm. They will donate specifically designed workshops to educational centres that demonstrate and explain the history of telescopes, infrared astronomy and exoplanets. Whilst we have already carried out activities in member states throughout 2018, with the IAU100 project the ambassadors will visit countries that are not members of the ESO and are typically less active in astronomical research compared to ESO member states. We aim to increase the exposure to astronomy and raise science capital in these countries.

This website is a portal to find many educational resources and information about ESO and this project. We also showcase some of the "artist impression" pictures produced by participants in our Exoplanet activities.

In 2019, as part of the IAU100 project we will visit: Hungary; Croatia; Ukraine; Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ethiopia.

Example past events: Celebrate Science (October 23rd-25th October; Durham, UK); Manchester Science Festival (26th October, UK); 57° congresso nazionale dell'AIF (Sciliy, Italy); Fête de la science (Paris, France); OSSA Toruń (Poland); Sociedad Española de Astronomía 2018 (Salamanca, Spain); Visit to Observatório do Lago Alqueva (Portugal); Soirée étoilée avec Toulx-et-possible (Toulx-Sainte-Croix, France); Ser Cientista (Lison, Portugal); Visit to Astronomical Institute in Ondrejo and University in Brno (Czech Republic).

We also acknowledge financial support from the IAU, ESO and SPIE

Laser Canon
Celebrate Science (Gavin Duthie Photography)