Industrious Telescopes of the South

This Image of the Week shows the assiduous telescopes of the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR, center), and International Gemini Observatory (right) below the dusty Milky Way and atmospheric airglow. SOAR is one of almost 40 telescopes at the U.S. National Science Foundation Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), a Program of NSF NOIRLab. To the bottom-left of SOAR is a photographer looking out onto the arid landscape of Cerro Pachón in Chile, highlighting the large scale of the 4.1-meter telescope.

Behind SOAR, the Gemini South telescope, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, can be seen operating its laser guide star. This is an artificial star created to aid the adaptive optics system to correct for optical distortions in Earth’s atmosphere. Adaptive optics systems must have a pinpoint light source to guide their operation, but only a few stars across the vast sky are bright enough to serve this purpose. This issue is solved with a laser guide star, which can be pointed anywhere the telescope is pointed. This technology, especially on 8-meter-class telescopes like Gemini South, makes ground-based observatories capable of capturing images that are just as sharp as those taken from space-based telescopes.

This photo was taken as part of the recent NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites. Tomáš Slovinský, the photographer, is a NOIRLab Audiovisual Ambassador.


International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T. Slovinský

About the Image

Release date:May 1, 2024, noon
Size:5472 x 3648 px

About the Object

Image Formats

Large JPEGLarge JPEG
6.9 MB
Screensize JPEGScreensize JPEG
341.9 KB



361.2 KB
592.5 KB
854.4 KB
1020.8 KB
4.5 MB