Southern Night Sky Revealed: Chile's Atacama Desert (Photos)

Atacama Dusk

Clara Moskowitz/ reporter Clara Moskowitz traveled to Chile's Atacama Desert in March 2013 on a trip sponsored by the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory. This view shows the desert stretching out behind a radio antenna at the site of the new ALMA observatory (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array).

Southern Stars

Clara Moskowitz/

The stars shine bright and clear above the small desert oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile's northern desert region.

Large Magellanic Cloud

Clara Moskowitz/

One of the most arresting sights in the Southern Hemisphere sky is the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way that appears as a bright cloudy smudge on the sky.

The Southern Cross

Clara Moskowitz/

The Southern Cross, officially known as Crux, is the Southern Hemisphere's most famous constellation.

Milky Way over Chile

Clara Moskowitz/

The bright ribbon of the Milky Way shines clearly over Chile's San Pedro de Atacama, with the Large Magellanic Cloud glowing in the lower right corner.

Orion in the South

Clara Moskowitz/

Some familiar constellations seen from the Northern Hemisphere, such as Orion the Hunter, are also visible from the Southern Hemisphere. In the north, Orion is a winter constellation, but it was summer in Chile when this photo was taken.

Lights of San Pedro

Clara Moskowitz/

Lights from the small town of San Pedro de Atacama brighten the horizon in this photo taken outside the outpost in Chile's Atacama Desert.

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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.