Eyes of Europe

December 15, 2013

FACTMilkyWayVertical-4650-net (4)

Photographer
: Miguel Claro; Miguel's Web site; Miguel's Facebook page
Summary Author: Miguel Claro

Featured above is the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), situated on the edge of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park on the island of La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. This observatory sits at 7,874 ft (2,400 m) above sea level. Here some of the largest telescopes in the world, from 19 nations, are using perhaps the best night sky in Europe to explore the cosmos. In the foreground is the First G-APD Cherenkov Telescope (FACT), one of 15 telescopes at this observing complex. It's designed to monitor bright, active galactic nuclei. Visible in the background is the intense light of the central region of the Milky Way. The brightest stars in Sagittarius are shining directly behind the telescopic structure. They're surrounded by a region rich in emission nebulae, seen here in violet, such as the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Trifid Nebula (M20) and the Eagle Nebula (M16). Note the nebulae and stars reflected in FACT's 102 sq ft (9.5 sq m) mirror.

The excellent quality of the sky (low light pollution) in the Canary Islands is protected by law. As a result, the observatories here are considered an astronomical reserve, available to the international community since 1979.

Photo details: Canon 60Da camera; ISO 2500; 24mm at f/4; 1/80 sec. exposure; taken on September 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm local time.