Despite the strong earthquake on Saturday, many telescopes survived.There are many international telescopes in Chile making use of the low humidity conditions in the Chilean mountains and high-altitude deserts. But as one of the most seismically active countries in the world, many of these observatories are built on shaky ground.
Adam Gristwood, reporting from Chile, takes a look at the huge potential of the Very Large Telescope and what it can help us to learn about the galaxy around usAs the sun sets and barren red rocks give way to millions of stars spectacularly illuminating the ink-black sky, the Atacama Desert presents ideal conditions for astronomy. Here, 70 - seemingly - lifeless miles from a remote Chilean mining town, lies the planet's most exciting telescope - the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT).The VLT comprises four telescopes, each equipped with 8.2-metre mirrors. Using a special technique known as interferometry that combines the resolution defining power of the telescopes, the VLT is powerful enough to enable astronomers to distinguish between the two headlights of a car stationed on the surface of the Moon.
The ESO Very Large Telescope will consist of four 8-meter telescopes which can work independently or in combined mode. In this latter mode the VLT provides the total light collecting power of a 16 meter single telescope, making it the largest optical telescope in the world. The four 8-m telescopes supplemented with 3 auxilliary 1 m telescopes may also be used in interferometric mode providing high angular resolution imaging. The useful wavelength range extends from the near UV up to 25 microns in the infrared.