A Sparkling Ribbon of Stars — The Southern Milky Way over La Silla

This panoramic photograph, taken by Alexandre Santerne, shows an insider’s view of the disc of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, as well as a cold winter’s night, with a sprinkling of snow at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. From our vantage point within it, the disc of the Milky Way appears as a sparkling ribbon of stars stretching across the sky. In this panorama, the Milky Way is distorted into an arc by the wide-angle projection. Peeking over the hill on the left of this photo is the ESO 3.6-metre telescope, home to the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter, HARPS (the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher). On the far right is the Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope, built and operated by the Geneva Observatory. There are a number of reasons why La Silla is such an ideal location for observing the night sky in general, and the Milky Way in particular. Firstly, it’s located in the southern hemisphere, giving us a better view of the richer central region of the galaxy, an

April 8, 2013

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