An astronomer’s outlook

Step outside the control room of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at night, and you will be greeted with a jaw-dropping sight. Thousands of stars cover the sky and the Milky Way stretches from one horizon to another.

In this image, the dark lanes of the Milky Way are visible, dense clouds of dust and gas that block out the light from background stars. The varying colours of the surrounding visible stars result from their different ages and temperatures — young, hot stars are very blue-white in colour, whilst the older, cooler generation appear more orange or red.

For the astronomers, a sight like this means that good data is on the way due to the lack of polluting moonlight. In order to help keep the sky as dark as possible, any lights within rooms not currently in use inside the control building are turned off and blackout blinds are put over the windows. Astronomers walk outside only with the aid of torchlight, preferably with a red filter so as to preserve their night vision — important if you want to gaze at the wonders above without the aid of a telescope.

The office in this image is actually just next to the VLT control room and the strange object outside the window is part of the control building which is located on a "shelf" below the main observing platform at the top of the Paranal Mountain.

This image was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador and Ultra High Definition Expedition member, Yuri Beletsky.


ESO/Y. Beletsky (LCO)

About the Image

Release date:9 February 2015, 10:00
Size:5131 x 3421 px

About the Object

Name:Paranal, Very Large Telescope
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Facility

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