Why are ESO’s observatories in Chile?
Northern Chile is an astronomer's paradise. It provides excellent views of the southern skies, which include the centre of the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds. And the observing conditions are superb.
From the northern hemisphere, interesting astronomical objects like the centre of our own Milky Way and the neighbouring Magellanic Clouds are hard to see. For many years, European astronomers had thought of South Africa as a promising location for their future telescopes. But in the early 1960s, when new site testing measurements from South America became available, northern Chile turned out to be an even better choice: clear and bone-dry skies, with very little light pollution or air turbulence.
ESO is an international organisation. But all of ESO's telescopes are in Chile, in South America. Do you know why? The sky in Chile is much darker than in Europe. So it's a much better place to do astronomy!