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

  • Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports / Reuters

    USA Wins the 2015 Women's World Cup

    On Sunday, the United States defeated Japan 5-2 to take their third World Cup title in front of 53,300 spectators at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada.

  • Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 6/27-7/3

    A European heat wave, lightning over California, a building made of 8,500 beer bottles, shrimp fishing on horseback in Belgium, the first-ever White House Campout, mine detection rats in Cambodia, and much more

  • Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty

    All-Request Photos: Sharks, Intoxication, Guacamole, Soccer, Scalia...

    Reader requested images, including playful raccoons, Soviet armies leaving Lithuania in the 1990s, Donald Trump’s hair, a Fennec fox, and much more.

  • Lewis Hine / Library of Congress

    Child Labor in America 100 Years Ago

    In 1908, photographer Lewis Hine traveled across the U.S. to document child laborers and their workplaces. His portraits were used by reformers to drive legislation that would protect young workers or prohibit their employment.

Join the Discussion