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Big and Bigger

A small crowd gathers by the telescopes to see the night in at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. For most, sunset marks the end of a working day — a time for rest. But not here; nighttime is when the real work is done, with a clear night’s sky as the workplace.

The crowd looks tiny, dwarfed by the telescopes to their left. These domes house the four 1.8-metre-diameter Auxiliary Telescopes that are part of the Very Large Telescope array (VLT). But the real giant of the picture is at the far left; if the Auxiliary Telescopes make the crowd look small, then the VLT Unit Telescope makes them look like ants. The VLT has four 8.2-metre telescopes like this, some of the largest telescopes on the planet.

But if you think that’s big, wait for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), set for first light in the early 2020s. Its mirror will be a whopping 39 metres in diameter! As we look to the future, ESO will be bringing the world bigger and better eyes on the sky.

Credit:

ESO/C. Malin

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About the Image

Id:potw1420a
Type:Photographic
Release date:19 May 2014, 10:00
Size:4256 x 2832 px

About the Object

Name:Cerro Paranal, Very Large Telescope
Type:• Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Facility
• X - Paranal

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