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Madsen,C. (2013). “TheJewel on the Mountaintop: the European Southern Observatory throughFifty Years”. John Wiley &amp Sons.

Thebook “TheJewel on the Mountaintop: the European Southern Observatory throughFifty Years”by Claus Madsen provided an expert review of the history of EuropeanSouthern Observatory center. The book begins by outlining how theproject was conceptualized and the people who played a role in makingkey decisions. This followed by an historical analysis of theactivities that created a world class astronomy center. The book alsodiscusses the numerous breakthroughs that have been associated withthe center. This paper focuses on the three main parts of the book.

Thefirst part of the book, CatchingUp,contains several chapters that give the background of the EuropeanSouthern Observatory center. The chapter provides the events that ledto the establishment of the astronomy station as well as the peoplewho played a role in the initial stages of the project. The team thatplayed a critical role in the establishment and formation of thestation includes Otto Heckmann, the first director of the EuropeanSouthern Observatory Center and his student and German astronomerJurgen Stock as well as Andre Muller and Paul McSharry, both of whomat worked at similar sites in South Africa. However, there were otherpeople who played an important role in the initial stages of theproject. This part of the book provides the background of thedecisions that were made by the team of experts, including thelocation and principle purpose of the station.

Thesecond part of the book outlines the activities that were undertakenby the team of experts after the center was opened. These actionswere meant to ensure that the organization will be able to serve itspurpose and evolve into a leading astronomic center. The second partof the book is therefore dedicated to the main projects that wereundertaken by the ESO center. This included the VLT project, HubbleSpace Telescope and new technology telescopes among others.Generally, the author outlines some of the telescope technologies andsupporting technologies that were adopted by the station with an aimof making it the most advanced and important astronomy station in theworld. Additionally, it explains some of the collaborations withother agencies and centers, especially with American’s NASA duringthe Hubble Space telescope project.

Thethird part of book outlines some of the major breakthroughs andsuccesses that were achieved by the center and its contributiontowards the understanding of the universe. It brings to the attentionof the audience on how new technologies such as New TechnologyTelescopes and Very Large telescope were able to transform theEuropean Southern Observatory into the largest ground astronomycenter in the world. Additionally, the station was able to do whatmany centers on the earth surface were unable to do. The author isspecifically concerned with contribution of La Silla and itstelescopes on the development of astronomy science. For example, theUVES technology with extremely highly resolution and 8.2 meterstelescope was a breakthrough in the study of intergalactic gases.

TheEuropean Southern Observatory is a global Jewel. This is due to itsimmense contributions in the understanding of the universe. This bookgives the success story of the project, the events and technologiesthat impacted on the project as well as key personality who playcritical roles.


Madsen,C. (2013). “TheJewel on the Mountaintop: the European Southern Observatory throughFifty Years”. John Wiley &amp Sons.