50 Years of the European Southern Observatory in Chile

Picture: ESO / Rex Features

This spectacular image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 was obtained on September 21, 1998, during a period of good observing conditions. It is based on three exposures in ultra-violet, blue and red light, respectively. The colours of the different regions are well visible : the central areas contain older stars of reddish colour, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) was created in 1962. In this gallery, we look at some of the most spectacular deep space images captured by ESO’s telescopes in northern Chile. These include the New Technology Telescope (NTT), the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

I love this stuff. We have one of the darkest places in New Mexico up on Galisteo Mesa and it’s a stunner to go up there with someone who owns a telescope. Cripes, even being up there with decent binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens is rewarding.

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