Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 26, Issue 1–3, pp 123–132 | Cite as

Past and future of ESO

  • L. Woltjer
Review Article


In 1964, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) came into being as a response to the need of European astronomers for access to large telescopes in good observing conditions. The original plan called for a 3.6 m telescope in addition to a number of smaller instruments. The 3.6 m telescope took some 12 years to build, while ESO headquarters moved from Hamburg to CERN to Garching near Munich, and during the times of office of three Directors General, and it was built on La Silla in Chile, where superior sites had been found. After 1982, when Italy and Switzerland joined the original six member countries, ESO was able to expand by building the 3.5 m New Technology Telescope, and ultimately planning and constructing the VLT on Paranal. At present ESO is a stable organization that has been successful in its original aims, and in view of new plans can look forward in confidence.


ESO Astronomers European 


Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Observatoire de Haute-ProvenceSaint-Michel l’ObservatoireFrance

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