Rainbow skies

This breathtaking view of ESO’s Paranal Observatory reveals a spectacular night scene over part of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the observatory’s most famous resident. The telescope sitting centre stage is one of the VLT’s four Unit Telescopes (UT). The VLT comprises both these UTs and four additional, movable, Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs).

However impressive the VLT may be, the closed telescope is trumped in this image by the skies overhead — most prominently by the colourful plane of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, as it arches across the frame and creates a celestial rainbow.

Part of the sky is tinted a faint green colour due to a phenomenon known as airglow, and the two smudges of the Magellanic Clouds can be seen to the left of the UT. The famous constellation of Orion (The Hunter) is visible to the right of centre, the bright stars of which can be used to find the stars comprising other constellations and asterisms. Drawing an imaginary line down through Orion’s Belt reveals the red star Aldebaran, part of the constellation of Taurus (The Bull). Further along this imaginary line, down towards the horizon, the Pleiades star cluster — important in many cultures and civilisations — can be seen. Above Orion are the three bright stars making up the Winter Triangle asterism: Sirius, Betelgeuse and Procyon.


About the Image

Release date:16 April 2018, 06:00
Size:15118 x 8268 px

About the Object

Name:Very Large Telescope, VLT Unit Telescopes
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Telescope

Image Formats

Large JPEG
90.6 MB
Screensize JPEG
209.4 KB



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Colours & filters

Very Large Telescope