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20 May 2013
The majesty of the night sky over Chile inspires many astronomers when they work at the observatories there.
A picture by Professor Alan Fitzsimmons in the Astrophysics Research Centre, taken while using telescopes at the European Southern Observatory on La Silla, has been chosen as Picture of the Week by the observatory.
Professor Fitzsimmons explained "I had a spare night on the mountain top before returning back to Europe, and took a beak from work to go outside and watch the Milky Way setting over the Pacific. I had my camera with me on that trip, and decided to try and capture the mood."
At the time Professor Fitzsimmons was using the New Technology Telescope on La Silla to study near-Earth asteroids. Astronomers from Queen's regularly use the ESO telescopes in Chile. As well as the ones on La Silla, they also use the Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal some 495km (310 miles) further North, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) on the Chajnantor plateau at 5000 metres altitude.
The picture is below, and can be seen along with other amazing pictures of the week at the ESO website.
About ESO: ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning the 39-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".