The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope is a formidable instrument. Its light-gathering power derives from its four telescopes, each with a main 8.2m diameter mirror, which combine to produce detailed images up to 25 times finer than each individual scope can achieve.


The VLT achieved first light in May 1998, from its location 2,635m high on the Cerro Paranal mountain in the Atacama desert of northern Chile.

Since then it has continued to give astronomers incredible, beautiful and scientifically intriguing views of the Universe.


Here we present ten of our favourite images captured by the VLT over the years.


Iain Todd BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Content Editor. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.