Jupiter, Mars, Saturn imaged as work restarts at La Silla Observatory

A new ESO image of planets Jupiter, Mars and Saturn marks the return of observations following a COVID-19 pause in the Atacama desert.

Jupiter, Mars and Saturn imaged at ESO's La Silla Observatory in the Atacama desert. Credit: ESO

This brand new image of Jupiter, Mars and Saturn was captured at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in the Chilean Atacama desert as part of a restart of science operations at the facility.


Observations had taken a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but towards the end of October 2020 astronomers were raring to go as restrictions eased, and captured this incredible montage of the Solar System’s most iconic planets.

Work has recommenced at the New Technology Telescope (NTT) at ESO's La Silla observation site. Credit: ESO
Work has recommenced at the New Technology Telescope (NTT) at ESO’s La Silla observation site. Credit: ESO

Jupiter, Mars and Saturn were the 3 brightest planets in the sky the night the image was captured, and the red, orange and yellow hues of the trio were achieved by combining separate images produced using 5 different filters.

The relative sizes of the planets are proportional to the angular size of the planets in the sky. Mars was at opposition when the image was taken.

Work at La Silla continues under strict health and safety measures due to the ongoing pandemic that’s affecting large swathes of the world, but the recommencement of observations is a positive sign for the astronomical community at ESO.

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Observatory New Technology Telescope, La Silla Observatory

Release date 26 October 2020


Image credit ESO