The Very Large Telescope

VLT (Very Large Telescope) is a facility of European South Observatory located in Atacama Desert in Chile. It is the most advanced astronomical telescope ever created. Or better said a group of telescopes as there are in fact four big telescopes and many smaller telescopes that work together. It is well-known for its vivid pictures of deep-sky objects and more importantly for many wonderful scientific discoveries.

I found that the view on the facility from above (at 30.000 ft onboard of a passenger flight from La Serena to Calama) can be just as breathtaking as the pictures of nebulas it takes. So I took this picture. Looking at the picture I sometimes think that it looks like it was captured from a Mars orbit rather than from a plane. What do you think?

Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-S 24-70/2.8G at 70mm, f/6.7, 1/750s, ISO200

The telescope domes are located on top of the hill on the left side on top of the hill. Four big telescopes are named by celestial objects in Mapuche language (Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun meaning Sun, Moon, Southern Cross and The Jupiter). On the right there are administrative buildings dominated by luxury complex Perla de las Dunas. Maybe you don’t know that this is where final scenes of the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace were shot. In the movie the building was completely destroyed, but I can witness that it is still there. :)

I had a privilege to visit the facility also by foot. I can say the view from the ground is as spectacular as from the top. First thing you notice is that there is exceptionally clear and blue the sky. It is dark blue with not even a single cloud for about 350 days a year. It feels like if you were looking through the polarizing filter all the times. The surrounding landscape is just as Mars-like as from the top. Only the telescopes domes appears to be bigger from the ground.

Nikon D300, Tokina AT-X 116 11-16/2.8 at 11mm, f/8, 1/750s, ISO200

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