Spectacular Cosmic Visions from ESO's Paranal Observatory (Gallery)

Southern Sky Splendor

ESO/H.H. Heyer

The European Southern Observatory’s telescopes atop Cerro Paranal in Chile form the Paranal Observatory. Here they serve as the backdrop for fabulous views of the night sky. The Milky Way stretches across this rare 360-degree view of the night sky above the Paranal platform, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. 37 individual frames make up the image.

Moon Over Paranal

ESO/Y. Beletsky

In the night sky over ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) observatory at Paranal, the Moon shines along with Venus at center and Jupiter to its right.

Planet Earth Turns Slowly

ESO/Stéphane Guisard

The sky appears to rotate above ESO's Very Large Telescope in this long exposure. The star trails curve away from the celestial equator in the middle of the photo, where the stars seem to move in a straight line.

I Only Operate at Night Time

ESO/Y. Beletsky

Astronomers enjoy the sunset at Paranal, on ESO's Very Large Telescope’s platform, just before beginning their nighttime observations. The moon and Venus shine bright, with the Auxiliary Telescope shown in silhouette.

Shot Through the Heart

ESO/Yuri Beletsky

Three of the four 8.2-m telescopes forming ESO's VLT are seen dimly, with a laser beaming out from Yepun, Unit Telescope number 4. The laser points at the Galactic Center of the Milky Way, our galaxy. The bright object at center is Jupiter, while the other is Antares.

When You Wish Upon a (Fake) Star

Emmanuel Jehin/ESO

This photograph shows the tail of Comet McNaught after it had set, with the laser guide star system above Yepun (Unit Telescope 4). The laser is used to produce a fake "star" in the sky to allow corrections for changing atmosphere.

McNaught in My Backyard


The sweeping image showcases Comet McNaught after sunset, with two Auxiliary Telescopes of the VLTI in the foreground.

Paranal-mal Activity


The Milky Way shines in all its majesty, as well as the Magellanic Clouds on the right. Some of the docking stations for the Auxiliary Telescopes of the VLTI lie in the foreground.

Like the Circles That You Find

ESO/S. Guisard

Southern sky stars appear to track above the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

Venus Kissed the Moon

ESO/Y. Beletsky

The Moon and Venus shine in the skies of Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Below them, the Milky Way glows crimson.

Little Greenie

ESO/S. Guisard

A green flash of the sun appears to observers upon Cerro Paranal. A green flash is an optical phenomenon in which a tiny portion of the sun briefly appears to turn green at sunset or sunrise.

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