A Road to the Future of Astronomy

By: Babak A. Tafreshi


Region: Americas

Site: Atacama Desert - Chile

Date: November 2011

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As seen on Astronomy Picture of the Day, the southern constellation Carina and the Milky Way are photographed in the absolute darkness of Atacama Desert above a road that goes to Cerro Armazones peak in Chile; the site for the European Extremely Large Telescope project. The 42-meter EELT will be four times larger than today largest single-aperture telescopes and this will lead astronomy to a new era in the next decade. Click on the constellation icon above the image to see the labels for the notable objects. The most stunning is the Carina Nebula. Although it is some four times as large and even brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is much less well known, due to its location far in the Southern Hemisphere. To its upper right is a star cluster filled with young blue stars. It is known as the Southern Pleiades. The bight star in the lower right is head of the Southern Cross, rising together with the large dark cloud known as the Coalsack Nebula. As added by the photographer "This is not a composite or a photo-montage. The challenge of going deep in this real landscape astrophoto was achieved using a fast telephoto lens and panoramic technique, high sensitivity of a modified DSLR camera, a tracking mount, and not too long exposure to avoid the landscape getting blurred by the tracking mount. These come along with excellent sky quality of this high-latitude desert far from any major source of light pollution. The photo is acquired during my imaging mission for the European Southern Observatory (ESO)." Babak Tafreshi,

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