All ESO’s Observatories Included in Google Street View

10 June 2014

ESO's observing sites at Paranal Observatory, La Silla Observatory and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and have now been included in spectacular 360-degree panoramic views from Google's Street View, now available on Google Maps.

Google Street View team visited each of ESO’s three world-class observing sites in Chile: Paranal Observatory at an altitude of 2635 metres — home to the VLT at Paranal Observatory — ESO’s flagship facility; La Silla Observatory — ESO’s first observatory on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert — 2400 metres above sea level; as well as the two ALMA sites — the ALMA Array Operations Site (AOS), high on Chajnantor Plateau at 5000 metres above sea level and the international ALMA base camp at the Operations Support Facility (OSF) at 2900 metres.

Instead of the perhaps more well-known Google Street cars, Google now is able to cover such high and remote locations using what is known as a Google Trekker. The special equipment by Google includes, at its core, an 18-kilogramme backpack which consists of 15 lenses angled at different directions so that the images can be stitched together into 360-degree views. As the operator walks, images are taken roughly every 2.5 seconds in remarkable quality.

Google Street view now allows everyone to explore each of the three observing sites from their own home and immerse themselves beneath ESO’s world-class telescopes. Viewers can place themselves on the platform of the VLT among the four 8.2m diameter Unit Telescopes (UTs) and four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) which make up the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI); overlook La Silla where ESO operates two of the most productive 4-metre class telescopes in the world — the New Technology Telescope (NTT) and the ESO 3.6-metre Telescope; and venture to the extremely high altitude on Chajnantor Plateau among an icy scene of the various antennas which make up the ALMA array.

In addition to ESO’s observatories, tourism attractions such as the Huilo-Huilo Reserve in southern Chile and the Humberstone saltpeter works in northern Chile were recently added to Google Street View, which has included images of Chile since 2012. The street view in Chile also includes one of the highest streets in the world, Chile Route 27. Additional locations in Chile will follow over the coming year.

Access to the ESO observatories through Google Street View is given here:

If you want an even more detailed look at the ESO facilities, the ESO Virtual Tours of the different ESO facilities in Chile and and the Headquarters in Germany will do the job:


The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.


Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head of ESO ePOD
ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cellular: +49 173 3872 621

About the Announcement



Google Street View at ALMA AOS
Google Street View at ALMA AOS
Google Street View at ALMA OSF
Google Street View at ALMA OSF