eso0004 — Organisation Release
And Then There Were Three...!
28 January 2000: This was a night to remember at the ESO Paranal Observatory! For the first time, three 8.2-metre Very Large Telescopes (VLTs) were observing in parallel, with a combined mirror surface of nearly 160 metres squared. In the evening of January 26, the third 8.2-metre Unit Telescope, MELIPAL ("The Southern Cross" in the Mapuche language), was pointed to the sky for the first time and successfully achieved "First Light". During this night, a number of astronomical exposures were made that served to evaluate provisionally the performance of the new telescope. The ESO staff expressed great satisfaction with MELIPAL and there were broad smiles all over the mountain.