Crystal-clear skies and perfectly dry air combine to make the Atacama Desert in Chile one of the best spots in the world to peer into the vastness of space. Light and other electromagnetic radiation can reach the ground with little interference from clouds or drops of moisture, creating optimal conditions for observation. For this reason, it’s home to some of the most powerful telescopes on Earth.
One of these machines is Paranal, the largest optical-infrared observatory in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of light-collecting area. Operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), it contains the flagship Very Large Telescope (VLT) and two others, the VLT Survey and VISTA.
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