1. Cerro Paranal
Paranal Observatory pictured with Cerro Paranal in the background. The mountain is home to one of the most advanced ground-based telescopes in the world, the VLT. The VLT telescope consists of four unit telescopes with mirrors measuring 8.2 meters in diameter and work together with four smaller auxiliary telescopes to make interferometric observations. Each of the 8.2m diameter Unit Telescopes can also be used individually. With one such telescope, images of celestial objects as faint as magnitude 30 can be obtained in a one-hour exposure. This corresponds to seeing objects that are four billion (four thousand million) times fainter than ...
40. ALMA reflection
Reflection of the ALMA site. The ALMA site is situated in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, this location is one of the driest in the world. Astronomers are subject to these harsh climate conditions in which they must operate. Chajnantor is at an elevation of over 2400 m higher than the VLT on Cerro Paranal. Due to its perfect location and large array of antennas, ALMA is the most powerful telescope for observing the cool Universe.
48. VLT cleaning device
Staff inspects the cleaning device used for the VLT mirrors at Paranal Observatory. While the telescope is observeing the mirror is exposed to the elements and gathers desert dust and snow, making it less refelctive over time. This devives cleans the mirror of the VLT to ensure it is operating at full potential.
50. VLT outside
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is located at Paranal Observatory in the remote Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The VLT is one of the most advanced ground-based telescopes on Earth. The 8.2m diameter unit telescopes are housed in compact, thermally controlled buildings, which rotate synchronously with the telescopes. This design minimises any adverse effects on the observing conditions, for instance from air turbulence in the telescope tube, which might otherwise occur due to variations in temperature and wind flow. Pictured here is also the four auxiliary telescopes which support the VLT for interferometric observations.
51. Inside the VLT
Inside one of the four-unit telescopes of the VLT. The VLT is one of the most optically advanced telescopes in the world. Each of the four unit telescopes consists of main mirrors measuring 8.2 meters in diameter. Although the telescopes are mostly used together, it is possible for them to be used individually; with one such telescope, images of celestial objects as faint as magnitude 30 can be obtained in a one-hour exposure. This corresponds to seeing objects that are four billion (four thousand million) times fainter than what can be seen with the unaided eye.
57. ESO Summer Research Programme — students at work
ESO Summer Research Programme students at work. During the duration of the six week programme the students carried out innovative research projects with ESO astronomers, in what was a succesful first year run of the programme for ESO and a rewarding experience for the students.
62. ESO Summer Research Programme group photo
The ESO Summer Research students pose for a photo at the Supernova Planetarium with their project supervisors. This is the first year ESO has run the programme and it proved to be a very rewarding and successful experience for both the fellows and their students. The programme was an opportunity for university students interested in astronomy/astrophysics, who were not yet enrolled in a PhD programme to obtain research experience alongside ESO astronomers at the ESO Headquarters (HQ) in Garching, Germany. The students were selected from ESO Member State countries, Strategic Partners (Australia) and Host States (Chile).
75. Paranal Residencia
360º image of the Paranal Residencia. The hotel was built as a respite for astronomers and engineers working at Paranal Observatory, located atop Cerro Paranal. Paranal residencia hosts a restaurant, swimming pool (pictured here), library and sauna. The mountain is subject the harsh conditions such as a relatively thinner atmosphere, intense sunlight and high wind speeds.
78. All around the VLT
An 360 degree panorama of the VLT in operation at ESO's Paranal Observatory. Visible are the Unit and Auxiliary Telescopes that make up the VLT, underneath the exquiste dark Chilean skies that brought ESO to the remote observatory. The bright yellow lines shining up into the sky are lasers used by the telescope's adaptive optics system to compensate for the blurring effects of Earth's atmosphere.
94. VLT mechanics
The inner workings of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal Observatory. The VLT telescope is one of the world's most advanced optical telescopes. It uses four unit telescopes and four moveable auxiliary telescopes, to capture some of the best images ever taken in modern astronomy.
95. Auxiliary Telescope in the Sun
An image of one of the Auxiliary Telescopes at ESO's flagship telescope, the VLT. These telescopes are the smaller siblings of the VLT's Unit Telescopes, but still have a large primary mirror, at almost 2 metres across. The Auxiliary Telescopes are used to improve the image created when two or more of the Unit Telescopes are being used together for interferometric observations, and can rearranged into different positions to create virtual interferometric telescopes with different characteristic.s
98. VLT's complexity
An image of an often forgotten part of a telescope. While descriptions and images of telescopes typically focus on their mirrors or enclosures, this shows the incredible complexity and engineering needed to keep the telescope and its instruments operating correctly. Without these cords and hoses the telescope might point in the wrong direction or fail to record the observations correctly!