Astronomers working at ESO’s Paranal Observatory get to enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the Universe.

By Lola Gayle, Editor-at-large

Not only do astronomers working at ESO’s Paranal Observatory get to stay in one of the most gorgeous hotels in the world, they also get to enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the Universe. Learn more about La Residencia here.

The Atacama Desert is one of the harshest landscapes imaginable. Extreme dryness, intense ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, and high altitude are a normal part of everyday life there. However, come nightfall, the desolate place offers some of the best astronomical observing conditions in the world.

La Residencia and ESO’s Very Large Telescope — housed at the Paranal Observatory — are far from sources of light pollution, and experience exceptionally clear atmospheric conditions. On moonless nights, the sky can be so clear and dark that light from the Milky Way casts a shadow on the ground!

It is these precise conditions that permit high quality scientific observations to be made as well as offering amazing conditions for astrophotography, exemplified in this stunning shot taken by Luis Calçada, a motion graphic designer at ESO’s headquarters in Garching, Germany.

In this photograph, the plane of the Milky Way can be seen above La Residencia, as passing staff members take a moment to admire the spectacular sight.

Surprisingly, you can see no light coming from the hotel itself. That’s because they close up all the windows and cover the dome so that light from the hotel doesn’t mess with the telescopes, or the view. GENIUS!

Top Image: La Residencia staff take a moment to admire the Milky Way. ESO/Luis Calçada/Herbert Zodet. Click to enlarge.

DISCLAIMER: This is a repost of a previous article I wrote during my time trying to get a friend’s site off the ground. After two years and virtually no headway or money — and no promise of how long the site will remain online — I am forced to take back ownership of my content. Portions of the content have been updated.