National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

The Milky Way Over the ALMA Operations Support Facility

Night Scape Photograph・

アルマ望遠鏡山麓施設の夜景 / Night at the ALMA Operations Support Facility - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

You can see the Milky Way in the night sky over the secluded ALMA Operations Support Facility (2900 meters altitude). A red and white metal tower juts up into the western sky where the constellation Orion is setting. Opposite, in the eastern sky, you can see the Southern Cross, Alpha Centauri, and Beta Centauri. The Large Magellanic Cloud can be seen faintly in the southern sky. To the upper right of it, you can see Canopus, known as “the old man of the South Pole,” shining brightly.

Operations Support Facility, the Essentials for Operating ALMA

ALMA’s antenna array is located at an altitude of 5,000 meters. But telescope operations and major maintenance are conducted at the Operations Support Facility, at a slightly lower altitude with more oxygen. The noticeable metal tower in the photo was built to mount the artificial radio transmitter for the surface accuracy measurement of parabolic antennas. At the Operations Support Facility there are offices, laboratories for instruments, lodgings, a cafeteria, and so on. More than 100 people reside and work there all the time. The Operations Support Facility is on the middle of the mountain’s slope in a dreary waste 50 kilometers away from the closest village. Only the lights of the Operations Support Facility and the faint lights of the distant village shine. This means that you can enjoy the wonderful starry night.

Text by: Masaaki Hiramatsu (NAOJ Chile Observatory)
Translation by: Hiroko Tsuzuki and Ramsey Lundock (Public Relations Center, NAOJ)

Image Data

Exposure30 second, ISO1250, f/2
DateMarch 14, 2016
PhotographerMasaaki Hiramatsu
CreditNational Astronomical Observatory of Japan

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