Need a new desktop image? Usually the Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal in Chile provides us with stunning views of the cosmos. This image, however, is a gorgeous view of the observatory itself. As the Moon was setting after a long night of observing, ESO staff member Gordon Gillet welcomed the new day by capturing this stunning image from 14 km away. This image is not a montage or computer-generated (such as the infamous ‘Moon and Sun over the North Pole‘ urban legend)
The ESO website explains:
The Moon appears large because it is seen close to the horizon and our perception is deceived by the proximity of references on the ground. In order to get this spectacular close view, a 500-mm lens was necessary. The very long focal length reduces the depth of field making the objects in focus appear as if they were at the same distance. This effect, combined with the extraordinary quality of this picture, gives the impression that the Moon lies on the VLT platform, just behind the telescopes, even though it is in fact about 30,000 times further away.
Interestingly, Gillet took the image from the road leading to the nearby Cerro Armazones, the peak recently chosen by the ESO Council as the preferred location for the planned 42-meter European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which should be open for business by 2018.