To celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 5, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is hosting two competitions for its Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile: one that lets you choose what the telescope observes, and the other, a chance to come to Chile and help with the VLT observations yourself.
Normally, astronomers must apply far in advance to use the telescope, and few are selected. For its competition to “Choose What the VLT Observes,” ESO has identified an assortment of interesting astronomical objects visible the night of the anniversary, which we have included in this gallery, and you can vote for your top choice.
Voters will also be entered in a drawing for prizes. The drawing winner will score an iPad, and 10 runners-up will receive ESO books and other loot.
The second competition, “Tweet Your Way to the VLT,” asks people to tweet their reasons for wanting to visit the VLT (in official ESO member state languages). The winning tweeter gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Chile to assist with VLT observations of the winning object.
The deadline for both competitions is Aug. 31 at 5:59:59 P.M. EST.