This image is unreal — literally! Rather than being a single picture, it was created by combining two separate photographs together, and shows the January sky as seen from both hemispheres.
The skilled photographer was ESO Photo Ambassador Petr Horálek. Petr shot the upper part of the image from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile and the lower part from the Slovakian village of Oravska Lesna, before combining the two to form this striking composite.
One arm of the distinctive X-shaped structure spreading from the top right to the bottom left of the frame is the lane of the Milky Way. The other diagonal comprises glowing columns of zodiacal light. In the centre of the image, is one of the four small 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes that make up part of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). A significant glow can be seen in the lower part of the image, caused by light pollution in Oravska, although there is no similar feature in the upper portion, due to the remote location of the Paranal site.
Credit: ESO / Petr Horálek