New VLT Survey Telescope Opens Wide Eyes to the Universe


There’s a new telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and what big eyes it has! The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is a wide-field survey telescope with a field of view twice as broad as the full Moon, enabling new, spectacular views of the cosmos. It is the largest telescope in the world designed to exclusively survey the sky in visible light. Over the next few years the VST and its camera OmegaCAM will make several very detailed surveys of the southern sky.

The first image released from these new eyes on the Universe is a spectacular view star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, shown above. The VST field of view is so large that the entire nebula, including its fainter outer parts, is captured — and retains its superb sharpness across the entire image.

This new image may be the best portrait of the globular star cluster Omega Centauri ever made. Omega Centauri, in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), is the largest globular cluster in the sky, but the very wide field of view of VST and its powerful camera OmegaCAM can encompass even the faint outer regions of this spectacular object. Credit: ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM. Acknowledgement: A. Grado/INAF-Capodimonte Observatory

The second image is the globular star cluster Omega Centauri. This is the largest globular cluster in the sky, but the very wide field of view of VST and OmegaCAM allows even the faint outer regions to be seen clearly. This view includes about 300,000 stars.

Here’s a look at the new telescope:

The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is the latest telescope to be added to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Credit: ESO/G. Lombardi

Below is a timelapse sequences of the VST enclosure at night:

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For more info and images see this ESO webpage.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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