Orion above the VLT
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Orion above the VLT

August 25, 2009
The great hunter Orion hangs above ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), in this stunning, previously unseen, image. As the VLT is in the Southern Hemisphere, Orion is seen here head down, as if plunging towards the Chilean Atacama Desert.

At night the four giant 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes of the VLT are all turned skywards to help astronomers in their quest to understand the Universe. The band of the Milky Way, criss-crossed by contrasting dark dust lanes, stretches up over the VLT's Unit Telescope 3 (Melipal), with the bright star Capella glinting just above the telescope. Up and to the left, Orion's belt and sword, containing the Orion Nebula, lie between the blue star Rigel and the orange Betelgeuse. The red Rosetta Nebula is seen in the middle part of the Milky Way, while Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, hangs above the scene. The red patch just above the VLT Unit Telescope 2 (Kueyen) is the California Nebula, nicely offset by the blue of the beautiful Pleiades star cluster a little to the left and above.

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