For the first time in its history, you can decide what to observe with the VLT, or even win a trip to the Atacama Desert and help make the observations yourself.
Usually, astronomers have to prepare a detailed plan long in advance, describing why they want to use the VLT, and only a small fraction of them are given the chance. But for you, it’s going to be rather easier.
ESO has already pre-selected some celestial objects that are visible in the sky on October 5th, the 50th anniversary of ESO, that fit in VLT’s field of view. Just cast your vote for the object you like most and the winner will be observed using the VLT on the 50th anniversary day.
Whatever, right? Social media does not exist to do free PR. Agreed, but they will draw a winner and ten runners up from among those who voted and the winner will receive an iPad (okay) and the runners up will receive ESO books, DVDs and other (meh).
So that first one is just okay but this next one, and visiting the VLT to help make the observations, is worthwhile. The second competition, called Tweet Your Way to the VLT just requires that you use Twitter to tell why you would like to visit the VLT at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. A panel of judges will pick the lucky winner, who will be offered a trip to Chile, including travel and accommodation. The winner will have the opportunity to visit the VLT in time for ESO’s 50th anniversary on October 5th and be the one who observes the selected object from the Choose What the VLT Observes competition. The observations will also be streamed live to viewers around the world.
The deadline for both competitions is 31 August 2012, at 23:59:59 CEST. More detailed information and rules for both competitions are available on the ESO website.