Lighting up the desert

No, a flying saucer has not just landed in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

This is the Residencia, the home for the astronomers, engineers and technicians who work at the European Space Observatory’s Paranal Observatory near Cerro Paranal.

By day, the 35-metre-diameter dome lets sunlight in. At night, it provides a light show to complement, if not eclipse, what is going on above – in this image, the Milky Way’s kaleidoscopic arch of blues, reds and pinks. 

Two neighbouring galaxies — the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — can be seen as white smudges beneath the curve of the Milky Way.

Please login to favourite this article.