Thursday, November 24, 2011

Paranal Observatory

Paranal Observatory
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paranal Observatory

Paranal Observatory is an astronomical observatory located on Cerro Paranal at 2,635 m altitude (120 km south of Antofagasta, Chile) and operated by the European Southern Observatory. The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is the largest telescope on Paranal, actually composed of four separate 8.2 m telescopes. In addition the four main telescopes can combine their light to make a fifth instrument, the VLTI, Very Large Telescope Interferometer. Four auxiliary telescopes of 1.8m each are being added to the VLTI to make it available when the main telescopes are being used for other projects. The first two of these were installed in early 2004 and 2005.
The site also houses the 2.5m VLT Survey Telescope and 4m VISTA survey telescope with wider fields of view for surveying large areas of sky uniformly.


Very Large Telescope

Main article: Very Large Telescope
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) consists of four 8.2 m telescopes operating in the visible and infrared. These telescopes, along with 4 smaller Auxiliary telescopes, are also combined to operate as an optical interferometer on certain nights of the year. All of the 8.2m telescopes have adaptive optics and a full suite of instruments.

VISTA Survey Telescope

Main article: VISTA (telescope)
VISTA is the Visible & Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy. A 4 m telescope with a wide field of view, that will focus on infrared surveys of the sky. VISTA was built close to ESO's VLT by a consortium of 18 UK universities led by Queen Mary, University of London it was handed over to the European Southern Observatory in December 2009.

VLT Survey Telescope (VST)

Main article: VLT Survey Telescope
The VLT Survey Telescope or VST is a 2.6m telescope with a wide field imager intended to aid the VLT in its scientific aims.

Other Buildings

As well as the telescopes, control buildings and maintenance facilities, Paranal has a Residencia (ESO Hotel) which provides accommodation for staff and visitors. This is located 200 m lower and 3 km from the telescopes. It is built half into the mountain with the concrete coloured to blend into the landscape. It has gym facilities, a swimming pool, a restaurant and two gardens. The construction was decorated by the Chilean architect Paula Gutiérrez Erlandsen, Marchioness of la Pica.[1]

The Garden of the Residencia (ESO Hotel).

Paranal Observatory including the basecamp and the Residencia.

Popular culture

The VLT hotel, the Residencia, served as a backdrop for part of the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace.


Aerial view

Paranal platform


The platform as night sets

Observing the center of the Milky Way using the laser guide star facility at Yepun, one of the four Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT)

The four main Very Large Telescope units, as well the four auxiliary telescopes

At dawn the telescope enclosures of the Very Large Telescopes close for the day

Early morning on Paranal

360-degree Panorama of the southern sky above the Paranal platform


External links

·         Paranal Observatory
·         ESO
·         VLT Project
·         VLTI, Very Large Telescope Interferometer

This page was last modified on 24 October 2011 at 21:29.
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