Beneath the Milky Way

I’ve written about this before for STEAM Register, and since then I just can’t get enough. I would love to have my ashes spread there when I pass away some day.

033016-beneath the milky way
Credit: ESO/Luis Calçada/Herbert Zodet

Deep in the Chilean Desert, astronomers staying at ESO’s La Residencia, the VLT Observatory’s hotel, witness a skyscape like few others on Earth.

Designed by the German architects Auer+Weber+Assoziierte, La Residencia provides an oasis for those working at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. The Atacama Desert is one of the harshest landscapes imaginable. Extreme dryness, intense ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, and high altitude are a normal part of everyday life. However, come nightfall, La Residencia experiences some of the best observing conditions in the world.

La Residencia and ESO’s Very Large Telescope — housed at the Paranal Observatory — are far from sources of light pollution, and experience exceptionally clear atmospheric conditions. On moonless nights, the sky can be so clear and dark that light from the Milky Way casts a shadow on the ground! These factors permit high quality scientific observations to be made as well as offering amazing conditions for astrophotography, exemplified in this stunning shot taken by Luis Calçada, a motion graphic designer at ESO’s headquarters in Garching, Germany.

In this photograph, the plane of the Milky Way can be seen above La Residencia, as passing staff members take a moment to admire the spectacular sight.

Text provided by ESO. You can download larger images here.

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