Swedish antenna at La Silla ESO Observatory, Chile
© Alberto Ghizzi Panizza/Getty Image
Eyes on the skies. Astronomy Day
In one of the darkest places on Earth, a cluster of telescopes examine the heavens each night, sending information about celestial bodies to astronomers across the world. Far from people and light pollution, the Atacama Desert is the world’s driest non-polar desert. It’s the perfect place for La Silla Observatory, one of the largest observatories in the Southern Hemisphere, and the first to be used by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), made up of astronomers from 16 European countries. The first ESO telescope at the La Silla site in Chile began operating in 1966.
It’s Astronomy Day in the USA today, an event started in 1973 with the idea of setting up various telescopes in busy urban locations so that people could enjoy views of the night skies. The springtime Astronomy Day is mirrored by another in the autumn between mid-September and mid-October.