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 ❯

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 ❯

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 goes to Supernovae!
Published 10/4/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Great news! The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 goes to Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess,"for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae". This was somehow in the air since 2007, when they were assigned the Gruber Cosmology Prize. But now is real. No matter what the physical explanation for the observed effect is, the finding is striking, and probably constitutes one of the most important scientific results of the past century. Truly enough there is probably another branch of astrophysics that has achieved great results in the last 20 years, and... 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 ❯

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 ❯

The aftermath of the Great Debate
Published 12/9/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
After the Great Debate, I had a chat with Pavel Kroupa. Here follow some quotes from one of his emails: "The Event was interesting, but it is clear that rational argumentation will not bring L-CDM followers into thinking otherwise. It is like with the searches for DM: if you do not find it then it obviously has other properties. And so our Local Volume (8 Mpc) and Local Group (about 2Mpc) cannot be used to test LCDM.   Well, if you subscribe to this, then we can just as well stop arguing and do more sensible things.... read more ❯

We do not understand nature, we measure it
Published 11/18/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
The Great Debate is over. In the next days you will be able to see it here. Although I had plenty of urgent things to do, I could not resist to follow the live blog by Marcel Pawlowski and Andreas Küpper, who kept reporting and answering questions for the whole duration of the debate. It was an interesting experience. From what I can judge, the presentation by Simon White was very relaxed, and did not touch upon possible alternative scenarios. After a general introduction on Dark Matter, White went through all evidences, including the famous Bullet Cluster. One of the... read more ❯

The Great Debate is Now!!
Published 11/18/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
The Kroupa/White Debate on Dark Matter just started! See the live blog here. read more ❯