Cerro Paranal is an astronomers paradise with its stunningly dark, steady and transparent sky. Located in the barren Atacama Desert of Chile it is home to some of the world's leading telescopes.
Operated by the European Southern Observatory (www.eso.org) the Very Large Telescope (VLT) is located on the Paranal mountain, composed of four 8 m telescopes which can combine their light to make a giant telescope by interferometry.
Four smaller auxiliary telescopes, each 1.8 m in aperture, are important elements of the VLT interferometer.
Walking on the desert near Paranal between the scattered stones and boulders on the pale red dust, feels like being on Mars but under the Earth sky.
Paranal was selected for cutting edge astronomical observations also because of the sky transparency and steady atmospheric condition which let astronomers peer into tiny details in the deep cosmos using giant telescopes.