Very Large Telescope (VLT)

Once upon a time …. the members of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) decided to build a Very Large Telescope in Chile. It’sthe start of a great story.

There are 4 telescopes (Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun) who work together imaging astronomic phenomenons 25 times better than with the individual telescopes. They’re huge. The mirrors have a diameter of 8.2 m!!! The telescopes are situated in Chile,  high in the mountains, with the clearest skies on our planet.

A lot of research is already done with the VLT. You may find more information on the ESO website, which contains a couple of very useful links (especially about the science with the telescopes). http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/vlt/

Tours are available under certain conditions: http://www.eso.org/public/about-eso/visitors/paranal/

Now I leave you with some of the most beautiful pictures of the VLT (credit ESO website)

eso-paranal-07

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Finding exoplanets

I’ve succesfully completed the Astrobiology course of The University of Edinburg offered by Coursera. The last lecture discussed the various methods used to find earth sized exoplanets.

ESO stated on February 18th that the exoplanet imager SPERE was shiped to Chile. SPERE will be used to discover giant exoplanets close to the star of that solar system. The first results are expected late 2014. Life on such planet is highly unlikely, because of the high temperatures.

You may read more on SPHERE here: http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann14013/

 

ISON

Comet ISON has become brighter and brighter these past weeks. It may now be visible with the naked eye. Here in Maastricht we have cloudy nights, but maybe we’ll see it in the coming nights. La Silla Observatory in Chile has made an really beautiful photo of ISON on 15 November. See here for more info: http://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1346a/

Ison

Milky Way: peanut shaped core

On Saturday night I saw the beautiful shape of the Milky Way again and also many stars.
milky way nl
This is an image from the Milky Way as seen from the Netherlands (thanks http://www.astrorocker.nl)

I didn’t see it for a long time because of the light pollution in Maastricht. It let me to think about the latest news about the core of the Milky Way. The core or the galactic bulge is made of thousands of stars. The latest findings of ESO show that’s peanut shaped. There’s still a lot more to discover about our Milky Way.

See: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1339/