heic0212 — Science Release

First light for Europe's virtual observatory

17 December 2002

Imagine you are an astronomer with instant, fingertip access to all existing observations of a given object and the opportunity to sift through them at will. In just a few moments, you can have information on all kinds about objects out of catalogues all over the world, including observations taken at different times.

Over the next two years this scenario will become reality as Europe's Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (AVO) develops. Established only a year ago, the AVO already offers astronomers a unique, prototype research tool that will lead the way to many outstanding new discoveries.

Journalists are invited to a live demonstration of the capabilities of this exciting new initiative in astronomy. The demonstration will take place at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Manchester, in the United Kingdom, on 20 January 2003, starting at 11:00. Sophisticated AVO tools will help scientists find the most distant supernovae - objects that reveal the cosmological makeup of our Universe. The tools are also helping astronomers measure the rate of birth of stars in extremely red and distant galaxies.

Journalists will also have the opportunity to discuss the project with leading astronomers from across Europe.

The new AVO website has been launched today, explaining the progress being made in this European Commission-funded project:


To register your intention to attend the AVO First Light Demonstration, please provide your name and affiliation by 13 January 2003 to: Ian Morison, Jodrell Bank Observatory (see Press contacts). Information on getting to the event is included on the website above.

Programme for the AVO First-Light Demonstration

11:00 Welcome, Phil Diamond (University of Manchester/Jodrell Bank Observatory)
11:05 Short introduction to Virtual Observatories, Piero Benvenuti (ESA/ST-ECF)
11:15 Q&A;
11:20 Short introduction to the Astrophysical Virtual Observatory, Peter Quinn (ESO)
11:30 Q&A;
11:35 Screening of Video News Release
11:40 Demonstration of the AVO prototype, Nicholas Walton (University of Cambridge)
12:00 Q&A;, including interview possibilities with the scientists
12:30-13:45 Buffet lunch, including individual hands-on demos
14:00 Science Demo (also open to interested journalists)

For more information about Virtual Observatories and the AVO, see the website or the attached fact sheets.


The AVO involves six partner organisations led by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Munich, Germany. The other partner organisations are the European Space Agency (ESA), AstroGrid (funded by PPARC as part of the United Kingdom's E-Science programme), the CNRS-supported Centre de Donnees Astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS), the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France, the CNRS-supported TERAPIX astronomical data centre at the Institut d'Astrophysique in Paris, France, and the Jodrell Bank Observatory of the Victoria University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

This is a joint Press Release issued by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre, AstroGrid, CDS, TERAPIX/CNRS and the University of Manchester.


The Astrophysical Virtual Observatory
More about AVO


Science contacts

Peter J. Quinn
European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Tel: +49 89 320 06 509
E-mail: pjq@eso.org

Phil Diamond
University of Manchester/Jodrell Bank Observatory
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 147 757 26 25 (0147 in the United Kingdom)
E-mail: pdiamond@jb.man.ac.uk

Press contacts

Ian Morison
University of Manchester/Jodrell Bank Observatory
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 147 757 26 10 (0147 in the United Kingdom)
E-mail: im@jb.man.ac.uk

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)89 3200 6306 (089 in Germany)
Cellular (24 hr): +49 173 3872 621 (0173 in Germany)
E-mail: lars@eso.org

Richard West
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)89 3200 6276 (089 in Germany)
E-mail: rwest@eso.org

About the Release

Release No.:heic0212


Two of the driving forces behind AVO
Two of the driving forces behind AVO

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Two of the driving forces behind AVO
Two of the driving forces behind AVO

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