This is one of the most spectacular sunsets I ever saw while working at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.
The Atacama Desert is extremely dry, but clouds do show up sometimes. That day there were several dark clouds releasing very light rain that vaporised before reaching the ground. These wispy veils (called "virga") were lit by the golden sunset light, creating a lovely contrast with the blue sky above.
The telescopes you see here are 3 out of our 4 Auxiliary Telescopes. Each one has a 1.8 m mirror. These telescopes work together using a technique called interferometry: by combining their light we can achieve the resolution of a "virtual" telescope as large as the separation between the individual telescopes.
We have four other larger telescopes called Unit Telescopes, each one with an 8.2 m mirror. These normally work as standalone telescopes, each one pointing at a different target. But we can also link them with interferometry.
If you want to learn more about this technique, check out this explainer that we prepared!
@email@example.com the sky is amazing and the combination with those buildings make it even better! 😍
@jeroen Thanks! Gotta say that as an 😉 astronomer I hate clouds, but when it comes to photography...
@astro_jcm this is a wonderful photo, but I also want you to know I misread Paranal as Paranormal, and that makes the clouds look very different
@nitot Our last couple of photos all look a bit gloomy, so here is one more with a dash of colour. In case you're not familiar with the Tempelhofer Feld, it is a former airport so many people put surfing sails on longboards and cruise around to benefit of the strong wind.
@astro_jcm Thank you! It’s beautiful and looks otherworldly. Actually, my first thought was: it’s a screenshot of s scene showing landing pods, from a movie about an expedition to an exoplanet - and is that an alien humanoid knocking on the door of the pod on the right? :-)
@astro_jcm Can you see the Milky Way from there with the naked eye? Not sure if the pictures I've seen are just fancy photography or my new life goal. ✨
@Zayre Yes! It doesn't look as colourful and bright as in long exposure shots, because our eyes are not very good at capturing colour at night. But it's still an impressive sight.
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