Ten Candles for the Vst (Astronomy)

The Vst (Vlt Survey Telescope) telescope, built by the National Institute of Astrophysics in the Chilean Atacama Desert for the Eso observatory in Cerro Paranal, celebrates ten years of operation and scientific achievements. And paraphrasing Enzo Ferrari, who was an expert in Italian achievements, for this all-Italian telescope in the best site in the world, the best result is what is yet to come.

Ten years and it seems like yesterday. Today we celebrate an important birthday in the history of the Vst telescope , which the National Institute of Astrophysics has designed and implemented at the Eso Observatory of Cerro Paranal , the best in the world for scientific productivity , where it operates alongside the giants of the Very Large Telescope . On June 8, 2011 , OmegaCam’s first recorded VST image was officially released , its wide-field camera of nearly 300 million pixels capable of shooting wide-angle images of 1 degree side. Behind the scenes, the spectacular work of a team with great technical and human qualities.

On the night of the first light, before starting work, an understandable tension hung in the air. When the dust was set on fire, dozens of people crowded behind the control stations, waiting for a few long seconds, in an unreal silence, for the first reading of the detector to end and the first image to be composed on the monitor. It was a success: the first images revealed a system already functioning splendidly with an angular resolution of 0.5 seconds of arc, at the limit imposed by the atmospheric turbulence of that night. Well hidden for good luck, champagne, glasses and even a reproduction of the football world cup jumped out at the right moment, very suited to the celebratory spirit of the moment.

The ESO Cerro Paranal Observatory with VST on the right. Credits: G. Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com) / Eso

Since then, time has flown by, leaving behind the first hundreds of articles produced with telescope data by astronomers from Italy and around the world. And at ten you are young and you continue to grow. In fact, over the years the Vst has constantly improved both for scientific production and in reliability: in recent years it has been the telescope with the most science time among the ESO telescopes, notoriously the best in these statistics. Blowing out the candles, let’s turn a confident look to the future: for this all-Italian telescope in the best site in the world, paraphrasing Enzo Ferrari who was an expert in Italian creations, the best result is what is yet to come.

Featured image: The first image officially released by VST on June 8, 2011: the star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula. Credits: ESO / INAF-VST / OmegaCAM. Acknowledgment: OmegaCen / Astro-WISE / Kapteyn Institute

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Provided by INAF

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