Just got back from a conference in Garching bei Munchen at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and one of the world's most productive astronomical observatories. They operate telescopes in three main sites in Chile; in the Atacama desert, at La Silla, a 2400m high mountain 600 km north of Santiago, and at Paranal, situated about 130 km south of Antofagasta. You may have heard of the four telescopes that make up the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array.
Anyway, the conference was on the Fornax, Virgo and Coma cluster of galaxies. I’ve been working on these for the past 11 years (wow, has it been that long?). My PhD was on the Fornax cluster. It was the first conference I’ve been to where I didn’t want to miss a single talk. Needless to say it was information overload and my to do list practically doubled by the end of each day. Caught up with a bunch of folks I met when I lived in the U.S. and drank a lot of German beer.
The best part was that I got to spend the weekend before and after in Germany and Austria. I spent the first weekend in Salzburg and hiked around Bergtesgarden National Park, the Alps on the German/Austrian border. I spent the following weekend in Munich. It was my second time there and I love it. The biergartens are fabulous and fortunately the weather was glorious. I also went to the Architekturmuseum der Technischen at the Universitat Munchen. It’s fabulous. Loads of really cool design stuff. I bought a new office mug from the San Francisco Coffee Company, a German coffee chain. Go figure?