The European Southern Observatory is an intergovernmental, European organisation for astronomical research. It has eight member countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.. ESO operates astronomical observatories in Chile and has its headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

ESO operates at two sites. It operates the La Silla observatory in the Atacama desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile, at 2,400 m altitude, where fourteen optical telescopes with diameters up to 3.6 m and a 15-m submillimetre radio telescope (SEST) are now in operation. In addition, ESO is in the process of building the Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Paranal, a 2,600 m high mountain approximately 130 km south of Antofagasta, in the driest part of the Atacama desert. The VLT consists of four 8.2-meter and several 1.8-meter telescopes. These telescopes can also be used in combination as a giant interferometer (VLTI). "First Light" of the first 8.2-meter telescope (UT1) occurred in May 1998. UT1 will be available on a regular basis for astronomical observations from April 1999 on. Over 1000 proposals are made each year for the use of the ESO telescopes.

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ESO is also the abbreviation for Ensemble Studios Online, Ensemble Studios' gaming connection site and matchmaking service, launched with the release of Age of Mythology. It is at this point still young when compared to Blizzard's

Ensemble Studios, whose titles made while not owned by Microsoft, were formerly published by Microsoft, and they are now are owned by Microsoft and therefore still published by Microsoft. Independently, they did not previously have the resources to purchase and operate such a site, and as such, previous titles such as Age of Empires and Age of Kings were routed through the MSN Gaming Zone.

ESO currently consists of several channels of chatting, automated matchmaking, four main game types, and advanced setup. Other types of games such as scenarios and games with cheats turned on are available through advanced setup, but the win and loss are not applied to the rating ladders from advanced setup. It also supports a friend and pest lists, and lacks a good system for private chatting, as it allows only for private messages rather than a private room.

On an average day, at any given time during offpeak hours, there are roughly 2000 people online and connected to ESO.

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