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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Paranal mountaintop desert observatory an oasis-like space paradise

European Southern Observatory in Chile a stellar outpost

Chile Space Telescopes an architecural marvel

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.

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