Snowy Paranal

Snow is a rare sight at Paranal Observatory. However, when it does choose to appear, the remote Chilean landscape transforms into something quite extraordinary and otherworldly. 

The distant, snow-covered mountain at the centre of the frame is Cerro Paranal, the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT is made up of four large Unit Telescopes (UTs) — Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun — and four smaller Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs). In this image the very tops of two of the UTs can be seen peeking over the mountaintop, alongside the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), which began observing in 2011. 

This image, taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Gerhard Hüdepohl, captures a truly rare view of Paranal. Precipitation of any kind is very rare in the Atacama Desert; the location is the driest non-polar desert in the world. Some parts of the Atacama have not experienced a single drop of rain since records began! In an area that benefits from an average of 330 clear nights per year, it won’t be long before the snow clouds disappear — and the VLT can get back to observing the Universe. 


ESO/G. Hüdepohl (

About the Image

Release date:26 August 2019, 06:00
Size:4288 x 2848 px

About the Object

Name:Cerro Paranal
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory

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