Fantastic moon rising over the Atacama Desert is captured in the photo

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has published an incredibly beautiful photo. It shows the rising of the full moon over the Chajnantor plateau.

The full moon rising over the Atacama Desert. Source: P. Horálek/ESO

The Chajnantor plateau is located at an altitude of over five thousand meters above sea level in the Atacama Desert. In this striking photo, the rolling, rusty and barren landscape of the plateau looks more like an alien world than our planet. And, in fact, this is not just a comparison. The Atacama Desert is considered one of the most inhospitable places on our planet. It is often used to test prototypes of equipment, which are then sent to Mars.

But such extreme conditions make this region one of the best places on the planet to host astronomical instruments, in particular those capable of conducting observations in the infrared and submillimeter ranges. The air at this mark is incredibly dry, which significantly reduces the effect of the absorption of radiation at these wavelengths by water vapor contained in the atmosphere. And the distance from civilization reduces the risk of accidental electromagnetic interference on astronomers’ receivers.

That is why the plateau was chosen to place the ALMA array of radio telescopes. In total, it consists of 66 antennas. 54 of them have a diameter of 12 meters, and another 12 have a diameter of 7 meters. They are not stationary and can be installed on different sites located at a distance of up to 16 km from each other. Two 20-meter tractors are used to transport them on the Chajnantor plateau.

All 66 ALMA antennas are combined into a single radio interferometer, which is currently the most powerful ever built. The observatory is one of the most important instruments of modern astronomy. It is used to study nebulae, regions of active star formation, and search for newborn exoplanets, and it also took part in obtaining a historical image of the shadow of a black hole. 

The fact that the moon looks so big in the picture is a well-known optical illusion. When the moon of our planet is low above the horizon, its apparent size seems several times larger than when it is high in the sky. But in reality, the angular size of the Moon practically does not depend on its height above the horizon.

According to

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