17 telescopes in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America have been conducting a nearly continuous 33-hour observation of three quasars (celestial objects with incredibly high levels of energy emission) on 15-16 January. The observation is part of a demonstration at the opening event for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) in Paris.

The exercise is expected to generate much better images than those from the best optical telescopes. The data collected by different telescopes are compared and combined at the Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry in Europe (JIVE). This results in much better images compared to what the best optical telescopes can individually provide.

The marathon observation is made possible by the Express Production Real-time e-VLBI Service (EXPReS) and the cooperation of radio observatories and National Research and Education Networks. Funded by the European Commission, EXPReS has been working since 2006 to connect some of the largest and most sensitive radio telescopes around the world using highspeed optical networks.

EXPReS is a collaboration of 19 radio astronomy institutes and national research networks in 14 countries and is coordinated by the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) which is based in the Netherlands.

Further information can be found on the educational website of the observation