The best observatory in the world is arguably divided among three sites in northern Chile—La Silla, Paranal, and Chajnantor. Each location in the high, arid Atacama desert offers excellent dark and clear skies for the European Southern Observatory's suite of telescopes. At 2,635 meters in elevation Paranal boasts the best instruments, with four 8.2-meter telescopes combining to make up the Very Large Telescope.

Now more than 50 years old, the observatory has played a principal or significant role in a number of major astronomical landmarks, including the discovery of dark energy, finding Proxima b around Proxima Centauri, the observation of stars orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy, and much more.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments