La Silla's Starry Night
On clear, moonless nights, the stars still come out with a vengance
above the high-altitude La Silla astronomical observatory. Taking advantage
of a recent visit to this first European Southern Observatory (ESO) site
constructed on a mountain top in Chile, ESO software engineer Nico Housen
recorded this stunning sky view. Difficult to see from light polluted areas,
faint stars and dark dust clouds along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy arc
across the gorgeous photo. In the foreground lies the highly polished 15-meter
diameter dish antenna of the Swedish-ESO Submillimeter Telescope (now decommissioned).
Beyond it, silhouetted by starlight, is the dome of one of La Silla's large optical
instruments, a 3.6 meter telescope. Dramatically reflected in the focusing,
mirror-like surface of the dish, the vista behind the photographer appears
inverted, with he dark horizon hanging above the Milky Way and the starry night.