It’s busy in the skies above the Atacama Desert


And very soon there will be many new antennas on the horizon. 


P. Horálek/ESO/CTAO

Hundreds of astronomical objects are visible in this image taken at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, including star clusters, nebulae, dust clouds and other galaxies — most notably the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, visible to the upper right.

However, something much closer to home is vying for our attention. To the far right of the image, a silver arc streaks across the sky. This arc is actually composed of two closely-spaced lines, caused by sunlight bouncing off the antennae of two Iridium communication satellites currently orbiting the Earth.

This dry, barren section of the Atacama Desert has been selected to host the southern part of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a remarkable array of 99 antennas that will gaze up at this incredible sky in search of high-energy gamma rays.

  1. https://www.cta-observatory.org
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