The European Southern Observatory

High in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has built several collections of telescopes and observatories on remote, arid mountaintops. The locations are ideal for ground-based astronomy -- far from city lights, high above sea level, with more than 350 cloudless days a year. The ESO is an intergovernmental research organization with 15 member states, founded in 1962. It has been making observations from the southern hemisphere since 1966, and continues to expand its facilities to this day. The sites are La Silla, which hosts the New Technology Telescope (NTT); Paranal, home to the Very Large Telescope (VLT); and Llano de Chajnantor, which hosts the APEX submillimeter telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Construction on the newest project in Chile's desert -- the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), a 40-meter-class telescope -- is due to start later this year in Cerro Armazones. I've collected below some amazing images of the ESO's observatories, and a few of the astronomical images they've been able to make over the years.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Carmen Jaspersen / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 7/25-7/31

    An alpenhorn performance in Switzerland, a portrait of Vladimir Putin made of spent ammunition from Ukraine, Prince Charles surprised by an eagle, wildfire in California, a sunset in Crimea, and much more.

  • Damir Sagolj / Reuters

    The Abandoned Fishing Village of Houtouwan

    On Shengshan Island, east of Shanghai, China, only a handful of people still live in a village that was once home to more than 2,000 fishermen.

  • Niranjan Shrestha / AP

    Nepal, Three Months After the Earthquakes

    Three months have now passed since massive twin earthquakes struck Nepal, killing more than 8,800 people, injuring more than 22,000.

  • Abhishek N. Chinnappa / Reuters

    The Flying Machines of Flugtag

    Since 1992, Red Bull has been organizing Flugtag (“flying day”) events around the world, where participants build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 28-foot-high flight deck above a body of water. The aerodynamic qualities of many of the creatively built aircraft are questionable, and most do not so much fly as... plummet.

Join the Discussion