Thursday, June 25, 1998 Published at 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
New visions of the skies
Probably the most powerful telescope in the world
Move over Hubble Space Telescope. A ground-breaking telescope has released new pictures of the cosmos, every bit as sharp and clear as those taken from space. The Very Large Telescope, in northern Chile, started looking into the skies a month ago. Our science editor Dr David Whitehouse reports.
Astronomers at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) celebrated 'first light,' the first astronomical images taken by the telescope, a month ago. They now have a growing collection of spectacular images.
It then becomes brighter and causes the gas to glow.
Our sun may do this one day.
The commissioning phase of the telescopes will continue until April 1999. Then astronomers from all over the world will be able to use the telescopes.
Eventually the Very Large Telescope (VLT) will be the most powerful in the world or off it.
Even though Hubble is in space and above the earth's turbulent and distorting atmosphere it is not a very large telescope. It is based on 1970's technology and astronomers can now do much better.
When completed, the VLT will consist of four giant telescopes that can either work independently or together.
Situated on a mountain 2,600 metres above sea level on the fringes of the Atacama desert in South America the Paranal Observatory has one of the most unpolluted and clear observing sites in the world.