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Glowing Paranal
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Glowing Paranal

December 9, 2013
This impressive photograph, taken at the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal Observatory in Chile, shows, towards the center left, the Milky Way — with its share of nebulae, stars, and gas clouds — rising above the VLT Unit Telescopes.

To the right, competing for attention as it arcs above the horizon, a beautiful, almost triangular band of diffuse light lies along the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun in the sky as seen from the Earth.

This glow originates in the scattering of sunlight by dust located between the planets that are spread through the plane of the Solar System. This coincides in the sky with the band known as the Zodiac, which extends for eight degrees of arc on either side of the ecliptic and contains the traditional zodiacal constellations.

Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky