“damn, what a sky…”

[Image credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky] Clear skies are everything in visible-light astronomy, and they don’t come much clearer that the skies above the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope [VLT] array on top of Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert.  As this amazing time-lapse video of the VLT in operation, by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado, shows.  There’s little I can say to prepare you for these wondrous images.  Simply stunning.  Via the Professor.  And via Popsci’s Clay Dillow, who warns “it might make you cry.”  [Video credit: ESO/S. Guisard (www.eso.org/~sguisard) ESO/José Francisco Salgado (josefrancisco.org)]

As an aside, the yellow laser beam seen during the video is part of an adaptive optics system. It allows for measurement of the amount of atmospheric distortion being experienced during any particular observation – which can then be compensated for.

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  • joeCanuck

    Just as wondrous as the images are the minds of the greats who figured out how it all worked (the visible part anyway) and our part and place in it.

  • Pete Baker

    For now, Joe, just wonder at the images.

  • Pete Baker

    I’ve added the correct credits for the video.

  • Pete Baker

    And added link to ESO’s Laser Guide Star projectors.

  • Wonderful, literally.

  • qwerty12345

    Stunning images. puts our petty human squabbles into perspective.

  • Pete Baker


  • Sorry: can’t make it in this lifetime to the Atacama desert (the spirit is willing, but the llama is crocked), so the images are, indeed, wonderful.

    There are a few places nearer home where we try to achieve “dark sky”. All credit, then, to the Galloway Astronomy Centre, near Whithorn and the Galloway Forest Park. Both are a few miles off the A75 race-track to/from Stranraer.

    You could usefully occupy the daylight hours watching the world go by a number of hostelries: my favourite is studiously observing the ebb-and-flow of the tide from the Steam Packet Inn at Isle of Whithorn. Shhh! Don’t tell everyone. They’ll all want some.