Sky at Five Thousands Meters
From an altitude of over 5,000 meters, the night sky view from Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes is breathtaking in more ways than one. The dark site’s rarefied atmosphere, at about 50 percent sea level pressure, is also extremely dry. That makes it ideal for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) designed to explore the universe at wavelengths over 1,000 times longer than visible light. In this panoramic scene, ALMA’s 7 and 12 meter wide dish antennas are illuminated by the setting moon. ALMA’s antenna configurations are intended to achieve a resolution comparable to space telescopes by operating as an interferometer. At left Jupiter shines brightly, Orion and Taurus appear near the horizon in the middle, the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, the Large (bottom) and Small Magellanic Clouds, are on the upper right.