5th December – Antofagasta and the Very Large Telescope

After an overnight (reasonably comfortable) coach journey from La Serena, we had a driver collect us from the bus station to squire us around for the day. First stop: brunch with a view of the Antofagasta fishing port:

smushDSCF1034

 

smushDSCF1035

Next stop ‘La Portada‘ – the natural ‘monument’ just outside Antofagasta – a sea-arch:

smushDSCF1036

smushDSCF1037

smushDSCF1039
Access to the beaches is no longer possible since the last earthquake.

smushDSCF1041

smushDSCF1044

Then it was time to head off to the big event of the day, a visit to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal.

smushDSCF1046
The telescopes, up on the ‘cerro’ or mountain
smushDSCF1054
Offices, construction, engineering etc, and a slightly weird cactus garden with gnomes etc
smushDSCF1052
Um…
smushDSCF1097
From Paranal you can see the full width of Chile – somewhere over there on the horizon is a snow-capped peak that is actually in Argentina!
smushDSCF1093
And in this direction you can look down at the sea.

 

smushDSCF1057
Two of the four larger telescopes that make up the VLT.

The VLT uses interferometry to bring together the images from the various telescopes, giving them high resolution images of objects that are very far away.

smushDSCF1062
One of the big telescopes next to one of the smaller ‘AT’ or Auxiliary Telescopes’ .
smushDSCF1064
Hard hats mandatory!
smushDSCF1068
The ATs can be moved around on rails to ‘tune’ the VLT.

smushDSCF1069

smushDSCF1071

smushDSCF1075
Inside one of the large ‘unit’ telescopes, looking up at the mirror.

smushDSCF1072

smushDSCF1074

smushDSCF1084
Please shut down Sun before switching off power!
smushDSCF1081
Gear mechanism for orienting the mirror of the telescope.
smushDSCF1088
Can’t believe they let me near this stuff…

smushDSCF1058

smushDSCF1055
Scale: The VLT Telescopes, the future E-ELT and for some reason the Sagrada Familia

The on-site staff quarters are rather cool, built into the mountainside with a dome roof that has to be blacked-out to avoid light pollution when the telescopes are in use:

smushDSCF1105

smushDSCF1103

smushDSCF1106
Entrance to the staff quarters, and the dome roof built into the mountain.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s