It is difficult for even the most seasoned astronomer to resist taking time out of a busy observing schedule to stop and stare up at the gloriously rich southern sky. This image is a self portrait taken by astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons, who took this photo between observing sessions at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. This bold photo shows the contrast between a simple, still and dark figure on Earth and the brilliant and bright starry night sky. In this picture, the sky is dominated by the enormous splash of stars and dust which make up the centre of the Milky Way, our home galaxy. ESO’s observatories are located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, a region with very few inhabitants, which combines very dark nights with extremely clear atmospheric conditions, both factors conducive to making high quality observations. La Silla is ESO’s first observatory. Inaugurated in 1969, it is home to a number of telescopes with mirror diameters of up to 3.6 metres. With more than 300 clear nights every year, La Silla is in an ideal position to house advanced observing instruments, but it also makes it a fabulous place to just stop and gaze up into the sky. Alan 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 Picture of the Week series or in our picture gallery.