Spectacular Colors Paint Night Sky Over Chilean Desert (Photo)

Paranal Observatory Night Sky
The night sky over the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in the Chile's Atacama Desert glows colorfully with the stars of the Milky Way, Mars' orange sparkle, many constellations' bright twinkle and even the magenta-burn of the Carina Nebula. This image was taken by astronomer and photographer Yuri Beletskty, part of the 2016 ESO Fulldome Expedition team, and released Sept. 19, 2016. (Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO)

Light pollution often hampers stargazing in our modern, electric world. The European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Chilean desert observatory sites — Paranal, La Silla and Chajnantor — can proudly boast extremely low levels of the man-made pollution. Even with that blessing, the skies at these observatories are seldom completely dark.

This image was captured by astronomer and photographer Yuri Beletsky, a member of the 2016 ESO Fulldome Expedition team, and released by ESO officials on Sept. 19. It includes just some of the many night sky sights to be captured in the "darkness." Scores of colors and cosmic sights are visible. [See more stunning photos from ESO's Paranal Observatory]

From the Milky Way's glowing brightly to Mars orange gleam and constellations like Scorpius and Orion brightly doting the sky to vibrant space clouds like the magenta-hued Carina Nebula, astronomical marvels light the darkness.

Evidence of humanity still interrupt the natural beauty even in such a remote location. Down the center of the image, lights lining the road between the Very Large Telescope and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy shine. 

The highly sensitive camera used for this image reveals a peculiar marvel called airglow — the red and green hues fill the night sky, highlighting Earth's atmosphere. Airglow prevents observatories from experiencing absolute darkness but ESO's sites come quite close.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the Space.com team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with Space.com, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.