Treasures of the desert

At first glance, this shot might look straight out of the “Dune” films, but this spectacular sunset scene actually takes place in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, where the air is so dry and clean that colours shine through more vividly. This desert’s rocky and sandy landscape may not hide mind-bending “spice” or giant worms, but it holds something arguably as precious — can you see its silhouette in the distance? 

The Atacama Desert’s privileged atmospheric conditions make it an excellent location for ground-based observations of the cosmos. In the photo, ESO staff member Simon Lowery poses on Cerro Armazones, where construction for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope is well underway. On the mountain range behind him stands ESO’s Paranal Observatory — you can see the domes of our Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the VLT Survey Telescope on the central peak and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy farther off to the right. 

Still, the desert’s otherworldly appearance has been recognised by many filmmakers, who have used it to film scenes set on Mars — for example, in the television series “Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets”. Perhaps someone should give the makers of “Dune 3” a call?


S. Lowery/ESO

About the Image

Release date:15 April 2024, 06:00
Size:5760 x 3240 px

About the Object

Name:Cerro Armazones, Cerro Paranal, Paranal, Very Large Telescope
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory

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