By the Light of the Moon

ESO Photo Ambassador Gianluca Lombardi used a remote shutter release and a 30-second exposure to take this night-time shot of himself sitting on a railing on the observing platform of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT is on Cerro Paranal, at an altitude of 2600 metres in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions on Earth. The viewing conditions at Paranal are so superb that on a clear moonless night it is possible to see shadows cast by the light of the Milky Way alone.  

In this photograph, however, the Moon is up, appearing as a bright light due to the long exposure. It is about to dip behind the VLT’s Unit Telescope 4 (UT4), named Yepun, and the shadows thrown by the moonlight are lengthening across the 200-metre width of the observing platform. The other three UTs stand in the background. From left to right they are known as Antu (UT1), Kueyen (UT2), and Melipal (UT3) in the indigenous Mapuche language. One of the four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes, distinguishable by its round enclosure, is visible in front of Antu, on the left.



ESO/G. Lombardi (

About the Image

Release date:13 June 2011, 10:00
Size:3888 x 2592 px

About the Object

Name:Photo Ambassador, Very Large Telescope
Type:• Unspecified : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky
• Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Telescope

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.3 MB
Screensize JPEG
133.0 KB



189.7 KB
311.1 KB
451.4 KB
492.2 KB
743.8 KB


Also see our