eso9518 — Organisation Release
Paranal on August 6, 1995
22 August 1995
This series of four photos was taken on Sunday, August 6, 1995, on the top of the Paranal mountain, where the world's largest telescope, the ESO 16-metre equivalent Very Large Telescope , is now being installed. The VLT will consist of four 8.2-metre unit telescopes which can also be coupled. Together with some smaller, moveable telescopes, to be installed later, the four large telescopes will form the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) , a unique instrument that will allow extremely sharp images to be obtained. The first 8.2-metre telescope is expected to be in place in late 1997/early 1998.
On July 30, 1995, a major earthquake shook the Antofagasta region, causing damage to this town and its surroundings. Paranal is only 130 kilometres south of Antofagasta and the quake was strongly felt here, cf. the Special Press Release issued by ESO on this occasion, and also the recent ESO Press Photo eso9517 with accompanying text.. Fortunately, a careful inspection has since revealed that only minor damages occurred to the installations at Paranal; they have been repaired in the meantime.
Photo eso9518a shows the construction work at the site for the first 8.2-metre Unit Telescope by the contracting consortium SEBIS. The support for the rotating telescope enclosure is being placed on the concrete foundation. This support had not yet been fixed to the foundation when the earthquake struck on July 30, and some of its pieces were found to have been displaced by a few millimetres. They have since been correctly aligned and firmly fixed. It is expected that this enclosure will be ready in April 1996 and that the installation of the first telescope will begin some weeks later.
Photo eso9518b is a general view of the construction sites for 8.2-metre Unit Telescope nos. 2 (foreground), 3 (behind, at centre) and 4 (behind, at right). The installation of the enclosure for telescope no. 2 is expected to start in November 1995.
Photo eso9518c shows the work at the centre of the Paranal platform. In the middle is the Interferometry Laboratory building and to the right, in the ground, is visible the long tunnel in which the light from the four Unit Telescopes will be directed towards this laboratory. While part of the laboratory building will remain above the ground, the entire tunnel system will later be covered with soil and rocks.
Photo eso9518d was taken inside the interferometric tunnel. The concrete supports for the various optical system are already in place.