The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is the most advanced optical instrument on Earth, located in the world’s driest desert — the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. It consists of four Unit Telescopes with main mirrors 8.2m in diameter that can be combined into an astronomical interferometer that includes a set of four movable telescopes dedicated to interferometric observations.
Working together, these instruments allow astronomers to see details up to 25 times clearer than with individual telescopes. It has become an essential tool for scientific research on stars, extragalactic objects like active galactic nuclei, (regions of a galaxy that have a higher luminosity over a portion or all of the electromagnetic spectrum), and it is responsible for the discovery of carbon monoxide molecules in a galaxy almost 11 billion light-years away.
The invaluable discoveries made using this incredible telescope are so copious, VLT data leads to an average of more than one scientific paper publication per day, and seven of the top ten discoveries done at ESO's observatories are directly related to its use.
The VLT is closed to the general public, however the desert is free to explore, and the view of the entrance is worth the trip.
Adapted with permission from Exploguide.com dedicated to travelers looking for alternative and off the beaten track travel.