new story for Wired UK
Benedict visited Paranal Observatory to get a behind-the-lens look at the inner workings of the telescopes tracking our skies. Located atop mountain Cerro Paranal in Northern Chile, it’s considered the largest optical-infrared observatory in the southern hemisphere. Due to its location in the Atacama desert, it is subject to harsh weather conditions from hot dry winds during the day that quickly turn to freezing temps by pitch black nightfall. In the darkness, laser beams cut through the sky to create artificial stars which help the telescopes clean images from the blurring effects of the earth’s atmosphere.
Fun fact, the base at Cerro Paranal as well as the scientist’s living quarters were featured as chic hotels in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.