A Kaleidoscope of Colour
Incredible splashes of colour — greens, reds, blues, and every colour in between — paint the night sky above ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, illuminating the barren desert landscape below. The light from billions of stars, glowing nebulae, and other cosmic phenomena creates the giant arch of the Milky Way, which stretches across the sky and perfectly frames the Very Large Telescope (VLT) sitting atop the peak at the centre of the image (Cerro Paranal). This particular view was taken from the site of ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). The winding road between VISTA and the VLT can be seen below, illuminated by faint yellow lights. These are, notably, the only human-made lights visible in the entire scene — Paranal staff take great care not to create unnecessary light pollution that may hinder the astronomical work at the world-class observing site. The Milky Way is not the only galaxy visible in this image. Two of our home galaxy’s natural satellites and nearest neighbours — the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — can be seen as diffuse blobs of light tucked beneath the arch, bathed in natural green and red airglow.