A Flat Armazones

Coated in a layer of ashen dust and littered with heavy equipment vehicles, the peak of Cerro Armazones appears conspicuously flattened as efforts continue to craft a platform for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

This shot of the monumental work in progress was taken from a quadcopter by ESO Photo Ambassador Gerd Hüdepohl, allowing a stretch of the Chilean Coastal Range, with Cerro Paranal and the Very Large Telescope, to be unveiled as a dramatic backdrop. The Atacama Desert and its crumpled mountains unfurl outwards, dissolving into a hazy blue towards the horizon. They provide a largely featureless but quietly arresting stage for the E-ELT, which will serve as the world’s largest optical and near-infrared telescope.

The clear skies of the Atacama provide the E-ELT with the perfect conditions to see the Universe with a sharpness far exceeding even that of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. When operational, this statuesque telescope will lend its hand towards the hunt for habitable exoplanets, while also peering further back in time and space to reveal the mechanisms behind the formation of the first stars and galaxies. As with any great scientific venture, the unforeseeable discoveries that might arise also have an allure of their own.

When it is completed, the E-ELT will house a 39-metre main mirror, which will collect more light than all the world’s existing 8–10-metre telescopes combined. The dome containing the telescope will stand some 74 metres in height and span 86 metres in diameter: a beast by any standards, with Cerro Armazones providing the perfect seat for this monster of modern astronomy.

A video can be watched here.

Credit:

ESO/G. Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com)

About the Image

Id:potw1502a
Type:Photographic
Release date:12 January 2015, 10:00
Size:4000 x 2753 px

About the Object

Name:Cerro Armazones, Extremely Large Telescope
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory
Category:ELT

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