Stars Circle La Silla by European Southern Observatory on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
This image by ESO Photo Ambassador Alexandre Santerne shows the Swedish–ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST) on the left, alongside the ESO 3.6-metre telescope on the right. In the background bright star trails circle the La Silla Observatory where the telescopes are situated, in the outskirts of the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Star trails like these are created by using a long exposure to capture the apparent motion of the stars in the night sky as the Earth rotates. This image is a composite of 250 consecutive one-minute exposures, spanning four hours. A flipped version of the star trails is also visible as a reflection in the dish of the telescope. The reflection also includes the red lights of a car passing by.

La Silla is ESO’s first observatory and has been a major ESO stronghold since the 1960s. SEST was, at the time of construction, the only large submillimetre telescope in the southern hemisphere. Since it was decommissioned in 2003 SEST has been superseded by other submillimetre telescopes such as the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, both located on Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau.

The ESO 3.6-metre telescope is host to HARPS, the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher — the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter.

Alexandre submitted this photograph to the Your ESO Pictures Flickr group. The Flickr group is regularly reviewed and the best photos are selected to be featured in our popular Picture of the Week series, or in our gallery.

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Destruction of Chemical Weapons Complete

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) completed the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile at Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD) in Utah. With the elimination of the Utah chemical weapons stockpile, CMA has safely destroyed nearly 90 percent of the Nation’s stockpile of chemical agent and has successfully completed its mission to destroy all chemical agent munitions and items declared at entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and assigned to CMA for destruction. The CWC, an international treaty ratified by the United States in April 1997, required the complete destruction of the Nation’s chemical weapons stockpile by April 2007. The United States was granted a five-year extension to April 2012 as allowed by the treaty.

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I briefly considered naming my daughter “Beirut”. She was, after all, conceived within two hours of returning from my first visit there. In 2006, along with my crew, and a number of other foreign nationals, I had been taken off the beach by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and transported by LCU to the USS Nashville, and from there to Cyprus and home.

The experience left me with a deep love and appreciation for the US Navy and Marines, the now decommissioned Nashville (once referred to affectionately, I’m told, as the “Trashville”), and, of course, Beirut.

That experience changed everything for me. One day I was making television about eating and drinking, the next, I was watching the airport I’d just landed in a few days earlier, being blown up across the water from my hotel window.

I came away from the experience deeply embittered, confused—and determined to make television differently than I’d done before. I didn’t know how I was going to do it—or whether my then network was going to allow me—but the days of “happy horseshit”, the uplifting sum-up at the end of every show, the reflex inclusion of a food scene in every act, that ended right there.

The world was bigger than that. The stories more confusing, more complex, less satisfying in their resolutions. As I noted in my utterly depressing last lines of Voice Over in the eventual show we put together: in the real world, good people and bad alike are often crushed under the same terrible wheel.

I didn’t feel an urge to turn into Dan Rather. Our Beirut experience did not give me delusions of being a journalist. I just saw that there were realities beyond what was on my plate—and those realities almost inevitably informed what was—or was not—for dinner. To ignore them now seemed monstrous.

And yet, I’d already fallen in love with Beirut. We all had. Everyone on my crew. As soon as we’d landed, headed into town, there was a reaction I can only describe as pheromonic: the place just smelled good. Like a place we were going to love.

You learn to trust these kinds of feelings after years on the road.

We soon met lovely people from every kind of background. We found fantastic food everywhere. A city with a proud, almost frenetic party and nightclub culture. A place where bikinis and hijabs appeared to coexist seamlessly—where all the evils, all the problems of the world could be easily found—right next to—and among all the best things about being human and being alive.

This was a city where nothing made any damn sense at all—in the best possible way. A country with no president for over a year—ruled by a power sharing coalition of oligarchs and Hezbollah, neighbor problems as serious as anyone could have, history so awful and tragic that one would assume the various factions would be at each others throats for the next century—yet you can go to a seaside fish restaurant and see people happily eating with their families and smoking shisha, who, in any other place would be shooting at each other.

It’s a beautiful city, with layers of scars the locals have ceased to even notice. It’s a place with tremendous heart. It’s a place I’ve described as the Rumsfeldian Dream of what, best case scenario, the neo-con masterminds who thought up Iraq, imagined for the post-Saddam Middle East: a place Americans could wander safely, order KFC, shop at the Gap. Where dollars are accepted everywhere and nearly everybody speaks English.

That is an egregious oversimplification. But it’s also my way of telling you should go there. It defies logic. It defies expectations. It is amazing.

EVERYONE should visit.


Nathon King


Fuelled by analogue practices, avant-garde methodologies and an appreciation towards the British landscape the notion of how we inhabit, create and dream of the places around us has grown into a collective fascination. Decommissioned focuses on an ancient architectural landmark that is Fawley Power Station. Situated on the edge of Southampton and after operating for more than four decades this in-site project explores the final moments of this grand and dream landscape. The photographic journey combines documentary sensibilities that reflect the social, economic and political changes facing a human-altered landscape.

Gigawatt Power Station More photos and full report here:

Not a great deal of information on this gigantic abandoned Power Station which is currently undergoing decommissioning. After seeing a couple of reports from some close friends we decided to throw this onto our list for the trip, the first location in fact as an early start seemed appropriate…