God’s Admirable Wisdom

“Astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For as astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God.”

— John Calvin

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Time-lapse of a whole night at the ALMA Array Operations Site (AOS), located at an altitude more than 16,000 feet on the Chajnantor plateau, in the II Region of Chile. As the Moon sets at the beginning of the night, three of the first ALMA antennas start tests as part of an ongoing verification process. Because they are pointing at the same target in the sky at any moment, their movements are perfectly synchronized. As the sky appears to rotate clockwise around the south celestial pole (roughly on the upper left edge of the image), the Milky Way goes down slowly, until it is lying almost horizontal before sunrise. The center of our galaxy becomes visible during the second half of the night as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark bands in the center of the image, just above the antennas. The flashes on the ground are the car lights of the guards patrolling at the AOS. ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array is the largest astronomical project in existence and is a truly global partnership between the scientific communities of East Asia, Europe and North America with Chile. ESO (European Southern Observatory) is the European partner in ALMA.