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7 places for top-notch stargazing

By: Katherine Butler on April 1, 2012, 5:21 p.m.
Celestial conjunction at Paranal, Chile

Photo: European Southern Observatory

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Paranal, Chile

Chile provides some of the best stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere. Travel and Leisure Magazine lists the Atacama Desert as one of the top 10 spots in the world to watch the stars, largely because of its relatively rain-free skies, its distance from light polluters and its high altitudes. The area is also home to the world’s most advanced “visible light astronomical observatory.” The European Southern Observatory has set up the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) as its flagship facility in Paranal, Chile. The VLT is the world’s most powerful optical telescope and is made up of several individual telescopes. When working together, these telescopes can see space objects at 25 times finer then each individual instrument. The VLT also offers the hotel Residencia for travelers who wish to share the view. The structure served as a set piece for the James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace."