Paranal and the shadow of the Earth

ESO Photo Ambassador, Babak Tafreshi has taken another outstanding panoramic photograph of ESO’s Paranal Observatory.

In the foreground is the dramatic, mountainous landscape of the Atacama Desert. On the left, on the highest peak, is the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), and in front of it, on a slightly lower peak, is the VISTA telescope (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy).

In the background, the sunrise colours Paranal’s sky with a beautiful pastel palette. Extending beyond the horizon, the sea of clouds over the Pacific Ocean — which lies only 12 kilometres from Paranal — is visible.

Above the horizon, where the sea of clouds meets the sky, a dark band can be seen. This dark band is the Earth’s shadow, cast by the planet onto its atmosphere. This phenomenon can sometimes be seen around the times of sunset and sunrise, if the sky is clear and the horizon is unobstructed — conditions that are certainly met in Paranal Observatory. Above the Earth’s shadow is a pinkish glow known as the Belt of Venus. It is caused by light from the rising (in this case) or setting Sun being scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere.



ESO/B. Tafreshi (

About the Image

Release date:17 December 2012, 10:00
Size:5824 x 2008 px

About the Object

Name:Panorama, Paranal
Type:Solar System : Sky Phenomenon : Light Phenomenon : Ray-Shadow : Earth shadow

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.2 MB
Publication JPEG
642.4 KB
Screensize JPEG
58.4 KB



116.0 KB
180.3 KB
255.3 KB
300.2 KB
365.3 KB