This panoramic view of ESO’s flagship facility in northern Chile was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Gabriel Brammer. The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is seen setting to work at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, visible against a backdrop of clear skies with the Milky Way overhead.
To create this picture, Brammer combined several long-exposure shots in order to capture the faint light of the Milky Way as it circled above the massive enclosures of the VLT’s Unit Telescopes. Each of these giants is 25 metres tall, and they are named after prominent features of the sky in the language of the local Mapuche tribe: the Sun, the Moon, the constellation of the Southern Cross, and Venus — Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun respectively. On the left of the frame, the smaller Auxiliary Telescopes can be seen in their white round, domes, with the large and small Magellanic Clouds above them.
The combination of several shots reveals the movement of the telescope enclosures, each accompanied by a ghostly echo of themselves as they move during the night following their targets in the sky. The passage of time is also evident, with a bright evening sky giving way to a dark, star-speckled view towards the left of the image.