Monday, 12 August 2013

Chile Diary - Day Two

I am rather tired, so forgive my typing?

But there are some great pictures to come...

Today we flew from Santiago to Antofagasta - about 90 minutes.

Then it was a two-hour drive through amazing desert landscape to the VLT site at Paranal.

It really is quite extraordinary.

Before I even discuss the telescopes, check out the "Residencia" which houses people who work and visit here:

It is sometimes called the ESO Hotel, but that name is a bit misleading - it is not open to the public, etc.

And for those who thinks it looks familiar, it was used as the villain's lair in Quantum of Solace.

Our ESO host, Laura, then showed us around the Paranal support buildings before we drove up the mountain to the viewing platform.

I have seen some big telescopes... Some that even outsize the individual VLT telescopes.

But the VLT is special for several reasons, including the fact there are four of them side-by-side.

While astrophotographer Pete Lawrence set-up before sunset, I went into the 4th telescope and filmed it being prepared and opened for the evening.

Then, after a pretty amazing sunset, the stars came out.

The first thing we saw (after the Moon) was Venus, then Saturn, then starting popping into view - Alpha Centauri, the Southern Cross, etc.

Pete - who has never imaged in the southern hemisphere - was like a kid in a candy store.

More of his photos will follow in the weeks to come.

But here are just a few I took with no expertise and an inferior camera!

Milky Way

Self portrait

Pete at work

I have retired to my room for some sleep - a long day of filming tomorrow.

Pete is still out there, snapping away.

Chile Diary - Day Four
Chile Diary - Day Five
Chile Diary - Day Six


  1. That's so cool! Thanks for keeping us up to date! :)

  2. I wish I'd had more opportunities to stargaze when I was in Australia as a ten-year-old, but we mostly spent our time in somewhat lit areas, unfortunately. By the way: which constellations do you currently consider the most familiar: those of the northern hemisphere, or those of the southern? (Which way is Orion supposed to be?)