Flowers of Andes
As seen on the National Geographic News like flowers soaking up sunlight, telescope dishes seem to turn their faces toward the starry sky in this image of ALMA observatory, located 5000 meters above sea level on Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array or ALMA is known as one of the most complex astronomical projects on the ground. It will eventually consist of 66 antennas, each 12 or 7 meters wide, operating together as a single giant telescope. ALMA is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with Chile. In November 2011, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), one of the main partners of ALMA project, invited TWAN photographers to record the stunning night sky above Chajnantor plateau. The dark site’s rarefied atmosphere, at about 50 percent sea level pressure, is also extremely dry. That makes it ideal for ALMA which is designed to explore the universe at wavelengths over 1,000 times longer than visible light. This single-exposure image, looking toward the south, has captured stars in the constellations Carina and Vela. The cross-like star pattern near the top is known as the False Cross asterism, while the real Southern Cross rises over the dishes in the lower middle.