#MeetESO — Follow ESO’s first social media gathering!

Observe the transit of Mercury from Chile!

How does a trip to see the world’s most advanced telescopes sound? How about travelling to the most arid desert in the world and climbing up to 5000 metres? Sleeping where James Bond did? Seeing the best night sky in the world? Visiting the control room from where some of the biggest scientific discoveries are made? Observing the planet Mercury as it passes in front of the Sun?

All of that is now possible in a single trip. Following a competition that ESO ran in March 2016, 8 keen social media users have been selected to visit the ESO sites in Chile between 7 and 12 May 2016. You can follow their adventures by using the hashtag #MeetESO or following ESO on Twitter.

The winners are:

Initial competition page

If you are a keen social media user with a passion for astronomy, we invite you to sign up to ESO’s first social media gathering. The event will take place between 7 and 12 May 2016, at ESO’s observatories in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

You will visit ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence. You will witness the transit of Mercury, a phenomenon that happens every few years. You will meet the people working at ESO and ALMA, see where they work and how they live in the most arid desert in the world or high up on the Chajnantor Plateau, at 5000 metres above sea level. You will meet other social media enthusiasts who have a passion for astronomy and make new friends!

Unlike other tweetups, only eight people can take part in the #MeetESO social media gathering, for several reasons:

  • Astronomers go to remote places in order to take their observations in good conditions and without being disturbed. We have to make sure our presence does not interfere with their observing runs.
  • We will be travelling to the most arid place on Earth, in the Atacama Desert, where we have limited resources for accommodation.

Read below about who can register and more details about the event.


7 May or earlier

Arrival in Santiago, Chile

8 May

Group departure from Santiago to Paranal
Arrival at Paranal and visit to the observatory, including: meetings with ESO staff, a visit to the Very Large Telescope platform and control room, nighttime observations with the amateur telescope.

9 May

Mercury transit observations and more tours of Paranal

10 May
Group departure to San Pedro de Atacama

11 May

Visit to the ALMA Array Operations Site and the Operations Support Facility

12 May
Return to Calama and then Santiago


ESO will cover:

  • Local transportation between its sites
  • Accommodation and three meals per day at its sites
  • Activities in the schedule

You will cover:

  • International flight from your home country to Santiago, Chile and back
  • Any other extra activities or trips you wish to take while in Chile
  • Any other extra products, food you wish to buy

Who can attend?

To participate in #MeetESO you must:

  1. Be a keen and experienced user of Twitter or/and Facebook.
  2. Be at least 18 years old at the time of the trip.
  3. Be a national of one of the ESON countries.
  4. Have a conversational level of English at least
  5. Love astronomy and space

How will the selection be made?

We will scan our communities for candidates who like to engage on social media and share interesting content with their friends. Those candidates that qualify based on the selection criteria above will be contacted with a proposal to join #MeetESO.

Make sure you follow @ESO and check your Other Facebook messages folder to see our message. Look for messages from both ESO and our Community Coordinator, Oana Sandu.

Those candidates who accept the invitation and are able to cover their trip to Chile, providing a flight ticket booking, will make it to the final list of participants.

On 7 March we will announce the eight selected winners.

How can you be selected?

To make sure you are among the people we will be approaching, express your wish to participate at the ESO social media gathering by filling out the form below.

Other ways of making it on our radar is to join the #MeetESO Facebook group where you can post messages telling us why we should select you. The final evaluation will look at the most convincing messages or the most popular ones in terms of comments and likes.

You can also tweet us @ESO telling us why we should select you. You can ask your friends to tweet us @ESO to express their support for you. Always make sure to use @ESO and #MeetESO in your messages so we can track them down.

Follow ESO on social media!
Check out our channels here: http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/social/