The idea of an European observatory on the southern hemisphere was immediately born after the end of the 2nd World War. This should counteract the existing dominance of the USA. The European southern observatory (ESO) was founded in Paris in 1962 and the first observatory opened in Cerro La Silla, an extremely dry area in Chile, in March 1969.
Austria has joined since the middle of 2008.
Todays additional facilities are:
Next future plans are the installment of the E-ELT at the Cerro Armazones (3060 meters, 22 km east of Cerro Paranal).
As a part of the admission payment, software modules are developed and contracts are awarded to companies of Austria (in-kind projects). These software projects are programmes for the planning, calculation and calibration of observational data which make it possible to use the telescopes more efficiently or to carry out more exact measurements. The software development is carried out by astrophysicists and mathematicians of the University of Vienna and Innsbruck in close cooperation with the ESO.
Furthermore the ESO and the Austrian Community are both interested in awarding contracts to Austrian companies. At present, advertising for this is handeled over the ESO sides economy chamber Austria (WKÖ).