Capturing the Ultra High Definition Universe

This photo, taken at ESO's Paranal Observatory, is the first photograph from the ESO Ultra HD Expedition — a pioneering journey currently being undertaken by four world-renowned videographers and ESO Photo Ambassadors[1]. Equipped with state-of-the-art Ultra HD tools [2][3], the team are capturing ESO’s three unique observing sites in Chile in all their grandeur.

The four Unit Telescopes — Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun — one of the Auxiliary Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), are captured from an unusual perspective in this image. Taken using a fish-eye lens, this photography technique produces a 360 degree view of the location — creating an immersive Paranal world with the swirling Milky Way at the centre of it.

Distant cosmic gems are seen scattered above the VLT — speckling the sapphire shades of the night sky. Near the top of the image, the Moon and Venus sit side-by-side, beaming brightly along with Saturn (just above the dome towards the bottom of the picture) as they align beautifully across the line of the ecliptic. Antares, Vega and Altair — some of the brighter stars in the sky are also visible [4]. Two irregular dwarf galaxies which are neighbours of the Milky Way, known as the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, can be seen glowing faintly to the left, near the Auxiliary Telescope. The footage gained from the fisheye lens during the expedition will be used in fulldome planetarium shows in the upcoming ESO Supernova facility.

The expedition began in Santiago, Chile, on 25 March 2014. The following day the team set off for their first observatory stop: ESO’s Paranal Observatory, where this image was taken on 26 March 2014. Here they will spend the next few days shooting time-lapse stills, videos and panoramas of Paranal — home to ESO’s flagship facility the Very Large Telescope — before moving onwards to snap the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the La Silla Observatory, returning to Europe on 8 April.

The team are writing a blog covering the period before, during and after the expedition that provides a behind-the-scenes insight into their journey and escapades.

Notes

[1] The team is made up of ESO’s videographer Herbert Zodet, and three ESO Photo Ambassadors: Yuri Beletsky, Christoph Malin and Babak Tafreshi. Information on the expedition’s technology partners can be found here.

[2] Equipment includes: Vixen Optics Polarie Star Tracker, Canon® EOS-1D C camera, Stage One Dolly and eMotimo TB3 3-axis motion control camera robot, Angelbird SSD2go, LRTimelapse software. Peli™ Cases, 4K PC workstations from Magic Multimedia, Novoflex QuadroPod system, Intecro batteries and Granite Bay Software.

[3] Technology partners include: Canon, Kids of All Ages, Novoflex, Angelbird, Sharp, Vixen, eMotimo, Peli, Magic Multi Media, LRTimelapse, Intecro and Granite Bay Software.

[4] The labelled version of this image illustrates the planets and stars that can be spotted in the night sky. See the comparison between the two images here.

Links:

    Credit:

    ESO/B.Tafreshi (twanight.org)

    About the Image

    Id:potw1413a
    Type:Photographic
    Release date:31 March 2014, 10:00
    Size:3648 x 3648 px

    About the Object

    Name:Very Large Telescope
    Type:• Unspecified : Technology : Observatory
    • X - Paranal

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