Astronomy in Culture

ESO 50th anniversary web-stream live now!
Published 10/5/2012 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
A Day in the Life of ESO is live now! Watch it at: I will be giving a talk at 14:17 CEST. See you there.     read more ❯

Meeting Alan Parsons
Published 7/24/2012 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
In many occasions I wrote in this blog that my passion for astronomy was accompanied by a deep passion for music. It was around 1978, or 1979, when a strong link between the skies and the music of the Alan Parsons Project started to develop. Besides the "spatial" character of several pieces (especially the instrumental ones), many texts contain references to astronomical objects. And so, partially because of this, and partially because of a certain imagination on my side, the two things became strongly related. Even after the... read more ❯

Astronomy and wonderful people
Published 3/15/2012 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Today was the last day of the ESO annual review. I am just back from the closing party, and I cannot wait. I need to write something about it. During these days we got a full overview of the activities carried out at ESO. It is simply amazing. However, what impressed me more is people. Those people who make all this. I think the highest moment was reached during the talk by Massimo Tarenghi, former director of the VLT programme, and now ESO representative in Chile. He was one of the key figures at ESO under the directorship of Riccardo... read more ❯

Stephane Udry gives a talk at ESO on exo-planets
Published 2/10/2012 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Long time no see... Many things happened in between. For instance, my boss Bruno Leibundgut joined the team led by Brian Schmidt in Stockholm, for the Nobel Prize ceremony. I already expressed my feeling related to Brian's visit to ESO before the Nobel Prize was announced. The account Bruno gave on the Nobel Ceremony was equally stunning. I rejoice for them, and for astrophysics in general. But I cannot hide, at least not to myself, that I envy them... all the more because I happen to be so close to these people ;-) Speaking of great deeds, yesterday Stephane Udry gave a great... read more ❯

Rock Star Paul Young encounters the Stars @ ESO
Published 10/18/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
I am sick, at home. Stomach not working as originally designed. Therefore I find some time to blog. These last days have been very busy with the organization of the ESO Observing Programmes Committee, the board that selects the scientific projects that make to the ESO telescopes, including the VLT. I'll tell you more about that; for the time being it suffices to say that we have received 969 valid proposals for the next semester, with all what this entails... Today I finished the review of a PhD Thesis from the Australian National University. A very good one, a pleasure to... read more ❯

Lost a chance, maybe forever
Published 8/31/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Yesterday, while digging into more than 800 emails (already excluding spam) received during my summer vacation, I realized I have lost one of THE chances of my life. Scrolling down the list, searching for the most urgent things, I stumbled upon a message with a strange subject: From the Dark Side of the Moon to Paranal The sender is my colleague astronomer and good, old friend  Martino Romaniello, who is well aware of some of my passions. I open the message. It starts with !!!! followed by a web link. I click on it and I see the picture you can also see here: That... read more ❯

Una serata assurda - An absurd evening
Published 8/29/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Just back from holidays. Many things happened, and maybe I'll find the time to report about a few of them. But the funniest, and at the same time the most frustrating one was a public talk I gave together with Margherita Hack. She is the most famous Italian popularizer of astronomy, and she appears quite often on national TV channels, newspapers and magazines. The day after I wrote a short novel about this evening. As I really needed to use many words, and my English is not good enough for that, I had to write... read more ❯

A completely new experience
Published 5/25/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Many things happened since my last post here. One of them is that I got a new job. Well, yes, I'm still an astronomer, but after ten years of work as support astronomer in the Users Support Dept., I now moved to the Observing Programmes Office of ESO, which I am now leading. What? Those of you who know me might indeed wonder how this can possibly be. Well, not sure... As a consequence, I changed office, building, collaborators and so on. But I'm still at the European Southern Observatory, my alma mater. [caption id="attachment_1284" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Panel Scientific Assistants (a.k.a.... read more ❯

Back from the light design conference in Drammen - Norway
Published 4/16/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Busy days... things have [somewhat unexpectedly] changed in my professional life (I'll blog about this when I'm settled. I just anticipate I'm still an astronomer ;-)), and this comes at a time where many other things are happening. Our paper on the very old stars was re-submitted after the first pass of the second referee. Now there is one serious point that needs to be addressed, which is the possibility that those stars are actually pre-Main-Sequence stars. I'll write more in a future post. Another article on the connection between... read more ❯

Early Saturday's thoughts of a [mature] astronomer
Published 2/19/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Every year here in Garching there is a workshop organized by the International Max Planck Research School for Astrophysics (IMPRS for short). The purpose is to give the chance to brilliant undergraduate students to participate to the IMPRS programme and get a PhD in Astrophysics in one of the most active campuses in Europe and in the world. This year the IMPRS received almost 140 applications, out of which about 50 candidates were invited to a 3-day workshop, where they could give a presentation on their scientific interests, meet other students and potential supervisors for their PhD Thesis. As I am... read more ❯