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10. An Introduction to: La Silla
Date: 25.2.2014
Location: Innsbruck, Austria
Altitude: 574 metres
Coordinates: 47° 16’ 0” N, 11° 23’ 0” E


Hello, Christoph here again!

Let me introduce you to ESO’s first observatory, La Silla. Located at the edge of the Chilean Atacama Desert, the site is where European astronomy first took root in Chile. This year it celebrates its 45th year. See below for the site’s transformation through time. You can read more about ESO’s early history here in this book, which is free to download.

A Window to the Past — La Silla's transformation through time
A Window to the Past — La Silla's transformation through time

La Silla is home to the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope, the first telescope to use a computer-controlled main mirror — which was then revolutionary in its design. The technology behind this, developed by ESO, and known as active optics, paved the way for major modern telescopes and is now used by ESO’s Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal and will be used by the European Extremely Large Telescope.


ESO's New Technology Telescope at La Silla. Credit: ESO

The site is also home to the 3.6-metre telescope which contains the HARPS instrument, the world’s leading exoplanet hunter — the most successful finder of low-mass exoplanets to date.


The ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, during observations. Seen here, spread across the sky as a disc-shaped structure seen perfectly edge-on, is the Milky Way, our own galaxy. Credit: ESO/S. Brunier

The infrastructure of La Silla is also used by many of the ESO Member States for targeted projects. You can see the different telescopes used at the site in this short video:


Why don’t you start at La Silla and take a virtual tour of the site? Just imagine all this in Ultra High Definition! See you next time.

All the best,
- Christoph
#ESOultraHD







9. Life at ESO Headquarters
Date: 21.2.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 metres
Coordinates: 48° 15' 36.90" N, 11° 40' 15.16" E


Hello everyone, it’s Herbert.

With our departure date to Chile creeping up on us, I thought that, as the only ESO Ultra HD Expedition crew member based at ESO Headquarters in Munich, it would be nice to show you around here before sharing our adventures at the Chilean ESO sites with you next month.

ESO has its headquarters in Garching bei München, in the region of Bavaria. This location is an important contributor to the Bavarian economic success story, underpinned by powerful infrastructure and bringing a high standard of living to the region.


As you can see from the snowy image above, the climate at ESO Headquarters in February is quite the opposite of the balmy Chilean weather that we will be basking in next month!


The people who work within ESO are employed as international and local staff members, fellows, associates or students. The ESO Fellowship Programme trains students, helping them to become highly able professionals with outstanding scientific skills.


I work within the education & Public Outreach Department (ePOD) at ESO. As the Video Coordinator, I often have the opportunity to visit Chile in order to record footage from which I select highlights on my return. My day-to-day work includes editing and encoding video material for use in ESO’s online archive, maintaining the archive, working on preparing ESOcast scripts as well as directing/producing ESOcasts and featured movies. In order to create products for a wide audience to view, I contact ESO volunteer translators as well as providing support to broadcasters when TV crews visit ESO Headquarters.

The ePOD department is a fun and creative environment to work in and ESO Headquarters is a vibrant place, full of enthusiasm and cosmic wonder where one could meet and collaborate with gifted people from all over the world!

Now that you know a bit more about ESO in the northern hemisphere, I think you’re almost ready to explore the ESO sites in the southern hemisphere!

All the best from Garching,

Herbert
#ESOultraHD






8. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Date: 18.2.2014
Location: Saarlouis, Germany
Altitude: 342 metres
Coordinates: 49° 19′ 0″ N, 6° 45′ 0″ E


Greetings! It’s Babak.

As Photo Ambassadors we shouldn’t really have favourites, but we do cherish a select few images that are significant to us in some way. After chatting about this guilty secret with the rest of the Ultra HD crew, we have four images from the ESO archive to share with you. One for each of us — our personal favourites from the bunch.

Yuri:


This photo features the total eclipse of the Moon that occurred on 21 December 2010. This image shows how dark the sky actually is during totality. The Moon itself became an intense deep red, and is no longer seen as a shiny ball — it is just another dim object in the starry sky. But the most remarkable thing is that one of the Unit Telescopes (UT1) was observing the Moon at that very moment using one of its spectrographs (you can see more information here: http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2013/EPSC2013-951.pdf). This makes the image very special. A combination of a unique celestial event, being observed by astronomers inside the leftmost VLT enclosure, and captured outside as a large panoramic image. That hasn't been done before.

Christoph:


During our 2011 night sessions at the ALMA site, whenever we had some extra time we explored other places of interest on Chajnantor Plateau, including the APEX Atacama Pathfinder site as well as a “little” (5050 metre) peak nearby, called Cerro Pico.

It was a very windy, cold place, windchill to minus 30 something. So I did not actually expect to get great time-lapse results due to the gusts of wind from all sides. Among other cameras, I was using a Nikon D3s, and even when I set it up behind some sheltering rocks the camera was shaking a lot. However, that time-lapse later showed some amazing frames.

In the fading glow of the evening light you can see two major celestial objects and one sky phenomenon as well as ground-based phenomena. A scene that one can simply not witness in such clarity in light-polluted parts of the world anymore...

These are the Milky Way, the Moon and the zodiacal light as well as the icy penitentes.

First, the elongated band of the zodiacal light flows into the bulge of the Milky Way. Zodiacal light is the sunlight reflected and forward-scattered by the dust in the plane of the Solar System. It is best seen under dark skies along the ecliptic as a faint but large cone-shaped glow right after the evening twilight or just before dawn. For me it is amazing that the camera was even able to render the pale yellow parts of the Milky Way against the strong moonlight, but the incredible astronomical seeing above the Atacama Desert leads to outstandingly transparent skies. Below, at the Atacama base one can see the lights of San Pedro the Atacama. Second, to the right one can see the white rivers of icy penitentes, flowing down the slopes of Chajnantor.

These bizarre ice and snow formations are found in high-altitude regions, such as the Chilean Andes, typically more than about 4000 metres above sea level. The precise details of the mechanism that forms the penitentes are still not completely understood, see here for an explanation.

Anyhow, I will never ever forget this scene. To me it shows how closely all the elements of space and Earth relate and interact with each other. What a beautiful sight.

Herbert:


This image was taken during shooting for the Europe to the Stars movie, celebrating ESO’s 50th anniversary. Sunset at the platform of the Very Large Telescope is always a very special moment. To capture this moment on video, the presenter of the movie Dr J, aka Dr Jochen Liske was asked to walk across the platform. To his left two of the Auxiliary Telescopes are visible and on the right, UT1 of the VLT can be seen. This shot was one of the final sequences taken at Paranal, since the later shoots were filmed at the ALMA Observatory”.

Myself:


I particularly like this photograph, firstly because of the overall composition; looking at it from an artistic point of view you might imagine a time vortex created by the star trails over the telescopes. But it’s also interesting from a technical point of view, as these telescopes are not often fixed for long enough to make a long exposure like this, which is why you don't see any other ALMA startrails in the ESO collection. Another aspect that I like is that the colours of stars and the empty”area of the south celestial pole at the centre of the trails are evident in the image, compared to the northern sky where the pole is marked by rather bright star Polaris.

Clear skies,
Babak
#ESOultraHD






7. All a Matter of Process
Date: 14.2.2014
Location: Las Campanas Observatory, Atacama Region, Chile
Altitude: 2380 metres
Coordinates: 29° 00’ 52.56” S, 70 41’ 33.36” °W


Hi, Yuri here again!

Do you ever wonder how we obtain such high detail in our photos? A lot of thought can go into getting each shot just right. Many hours of patience, along with a lot of heart and soul also goes into editing and processing.

In nightscape photography typical exposure times are of the order of tens of seconds. Stars are faint objects, so it is important to collect the light in long exposures (see my previous blog post). You can point and shoot with just a camera and tripod for up to around 30 seconds (depending on whether you’re shooting at the poles or towards the celestial equator). Using a star tracker such as the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker mounted on a tripod will allow you to image for much longer, to the order of several minutes, which can give more depth to your image.


This view of ESO’s La Silla Observatory reveals the splendour of the night sky and shows several of the domed telescopes located at the site. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

Generally using a dark frame is recommended, but in many cases, and for nightscapes in particular, shots of dark frames might not be necessary. Using dark frames (or not using them) depends on several factors, such as ambient temperature and camera model. Also, many cameras have a built-in feature that can take dark frames automatically as long as the exposure time exceeds a few seconds.

One common technique is to combine several of the best images, which will improve the signal-to-noise (S/N), meaning more detail in the image is brought out and the noise associated with unwanted electronic signals in the camera is reduced. This technique will also be able to align the stars more precisely, eliminating the tiny errors present in some star trackers. However, the use of such a technique again depends on the scene.

In case of nightscapes, when the scene consists of still ground and rotating sky, image combinations like this will be tricky (if you align the images using the ground, then the stars will become arcs. And the other way around, if you align images using stars, then the foreground will become blurred). So this has to be thought about before taking an image. If the choice is made in favour of getting a very deep sky image, then one can use stacking software like Registax and Deepskystacker.


Image of the night sky above Paranal on 21 July 2007, taken by ESO astronomer Yuri Beletsky. A wide band of stars and dust clouds, spanning more than 100 degrees on the sky, is seen. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

Following this, a lot of extra processing can be a matter of personal aesthetics. Much can be done to bring out the depth and intensity of different features. Usually, my whole post-processing is done is Adobe Photoshop. This begins with a visual evaluation of the image. Then I try to adjust contrast and brightness of the frame, using the “curves” tool within Photoshop. In many cases, I would then do some cropping in order to get a better composition. Finally, I add in some colour correction too (if necessary).

One of my main suggestions would be to shoot images in RAW format only. It gives you full flexibility for further image processing. JPEGs and TIFFs are not recommended for serious nightscape work.

All the best,

-Yuri
#ESOultraHD


 


 

6. Time Flies
Date: 11.2.2014
Location: Innsbruck, Austria
Altitude: 574 metres
Coordinates: 47° 16’ 0” N, 11° 23’ 0” E


Hi everyone,

Takeoff for the ESO Ultra HD Expedition comes closer. There are a lot of preparations to be made, for all the time-lapse and motion control (MoCo) rigs we will take with us. Both the hardware and software also need to be kept updated and sorted.

Regarding time-lapses: it is important to figure everything out beforehand — such as subject and location of shot, intervals and length of the sequence, date and time of sunset and sunrise, weather forecast and so on. In time-lapse everything is about being in the right place at the right time.

The majority of time-lapses are not made using a video camera and speeding up the footage (which is a classic approach). The ultimate quality of time-lapse sequences, especially in ultra low-light conditions like those found at the ESO observatory sites, can only be achieved with a digital SLR (DSLR) camera. This is because today’s full-frame DSLRs are able to capture the night sky in all its glory with a low noise at high film speed (ISO rate). On a dark night, these cameras do “see” much more than the human eye.

For a time-lapse you don’t need a high frame rate. Instead for each scene you build a sequence of still images stretched over several minutes or hours, allowing you to speed up (or slow down) time as you wish for the usual TV frame rate of 25 frame per second (fps) for the final footage. The DSLR camera is therefore controlled with an external intervalometer (be it a classic intervalometer or software or another device, see below).

A typical sequence for an ESO timelapse will consist of between 500 and 4000 total images in the original resolution the camera provides (between 6K and 8K); around 500 and up for shorter sequences, 3500 and up for long sequences that include sunset, night and sunrise.

These very long sequences involve “transitions” during the time of sunset and sunrise and up until now, creating them involved a special technique where the photographer would adjust parameters like ISO, aperture, interval and exposure directly at the camera during interval pauses, sometimes controlling up to three or four cameras at once (positioned in a circle around the photographer).

But over the last two years or so, various software and hardware solutions have been designed to allow such a transition to be controlled by special software on netbooks (Windows) or tablets (Android) as well as special programmable devices. For the ESO Ultra HD Expedition we will use GBTimelapse and DSLRDashboard. See my own test here.

A lot of heart and soul goes into editing and processing each individual image, and you need a lot of processing power with your hardware. You can use software such as Adobe Lightroom which allows you to apply the same edit to several images at once. The images are then carefully brought together to form a film sequence. I use a tool called LRTimelapse to take these sequences to the next level by having them graded and leveled on a virtual timeline.

Another important tool and plug-in for Adobe After Effects named GBDeflicker removes flickering at the stage of rendering the sequences. This flickering is caused by slight differences in exposure and aperture resulting in very slight luminance changes from image to image.

For the first time worldwide, I will also use a custom built “Timelapse Robot” to automatically create transitions from day to night to day.

This video shows the kind of flickering artifacts you see during the day-night transition. It is available for for download in various formats here

I fondly remember our first ESO expedition in 2011 when we put together the short film Astronomer’s Paradise. We broke a record then: for 14 days and nights at the ESO sites at Paranal and ALMA we were imaging nearly 8 to 10 hours per night, even at the 5000-metre high ALMA site, and we captured an unprecedented number of sequences of the Atacama skies.

Astronomer’s Paradise was a huge international success, in collaboration with Babak Tefreshi, featured on National Geographic, Discovery Channel and many other sites.

Check out my other short time-lapse films here, but imagine all this in Ultra High Definition! We believe we will provide something no one else has done so far — taking the Universe to this whole new dimension. With four times the resolution of HD, we will aim to create crisper and even more breathtaking footage in Ultra HD.

All the cores of our processing machines will glow red in the night, that is for sure :)

All the best,

- Christoph
#ESOultraHD


 


 

5. Let There Be (More) Light
Date: 7.2.2014
Location: Las Campanas Observatory, Atacama Region, Chile
Altitude: 2380 metres
Coordinates: 29.0146° S, 70.6926° W


Hi, Yuri here again.

In photography, light is the most important thing. In daytime shots, natural light is your friend. When dealing with astrophotography however, we are imaging small points of light — the stars. It is important therefore to take longer exposure shots to let in more light to the camera. Slow shutter speeds make it challenging to avoid blur, camera shake and vibrations. A sturdy tripod is essential.

Sharp images are key in photography. Autofocus won’t work most of the time for astrophotos, so it is important to focus manually. For a digital SLR camera it is very difficult to use a viewfinder alone by eye, so a “live-view” gives you the best view. Zooming in can help you see if the stars appear sharp.


This panorama photo, taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky, shows the view of the starry sky from the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal during the total lunar eclipse of 21 December 2010. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

You need to do everything possible to let as much light as possible into the camera, and shoot under the darkest conditions possible. It is best to use a lens with the largest aperture possible, as indicated by the F-number (F-ratio or focal ratio). Increasing the film speed (ISO setting) will also let in more light, although this will increase the noise in the shot. It is usually best to take several images and then add them together (stack them) afterwards to form a composite with greater detail and depth.


Gaze up at the night sky from ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile, and you will be greeted with a stunning view like this one. Flecks of blue, orange, red; each a different star, galaxy, nebula, or more, together forming a sparkling sky overhead. Astronomers peer at this beautiful backdrop, trying to unravel the mysteries of the Universe. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

Be aware of light pollution, an increasing problem for astronomers, especially in densely populated regions in Europe and North America. This is light you don’t want! We are very fortunate to be able to image from some of the best and darkest skies in the world from ESO’s sites in Chile. Here’s one of my favourite shots from Paranal. One can see the enclosures housing the 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) that are used for interferometry. Above these three ATs, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. They are only seen from the southern hemisphere.

The conditions are so great, the skies so dark and the atmosphere so steady that the stars seem like jewels in the night sky that you can just touch. Remarkably, the green and red cast along the horizon is not light pollution. This is actually airglow — a very weak emission of light in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Wishing you dark and clear skies,

Yuri.

#ESOultraHD

 


 

4. The Jewel on the Mountaintop
Date: 5.2.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 metres
Coordinates: 48° 15' 36.90" N, 11° 40' 15.16" E


Hello everyone, it’s Herbert here.

Almost exactly 60 years ago, on 26 January 1954, twelve people were laying the foundations of ESO, based on common goals and dreams. I have always been impressed by the grand scale on which ESO operates, and the fascinating history behind its evolution as an organisation. Before departing for Chile, I would like to take you back to the days before ESO became the astronomical powerhouse that you know today, using one of my favourite ESO books, The Jewel on the Mountaintop (available for free as PDF). Written by ESO Senior Advisor Claus Madsen, it tells the early story of ESO in four distinct phases outlined below.

Join me, as we take a whirlwind tour of ESO, from concept to reality through some of the images and quotes from the book:

Part I: Catching Up


Signatories to the 1954 declaration

The situation in the thirties was largely that Europe — European astronomers, in a way, left big telescope astronomy to the Americans.” - Bengt Strӧmgren

 

So, in the early 50s, a group of astronomers undertook an important initiative to reverse the decline of European astronomy. The vehicle for change and turnaround was to build new and competitive observational facilities. In the southern hemisphere.” - Claus Madsen


March 1965: Construction of La Silla Observatory begins.

 

Part II: Years of Experimentation

“Optical astronomy is fundamentally a question of photon-hunting... But that radiation is weak and some therefore say that astronomy is photon-starved. The remedy is to set up traps — telescopes with large collecting areas — the larger the better. In December 1977, scientists gathered at CERN in Geneva to discuss exactly how to do that. The occasion was an ESO Conference entitled Optical Telescopes of the Future.” - Claus Madsen


1980: around the time of the inauguration of the new ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany

1991: View of Cerro Paranal before the construction of the observatory, and the Very Large Telescope

 

Part III: The Breakthrough

“The VLT expressed the aspirations of Europe’s astronomers, but it certainly also constituted a gigantic challenge for the engineers, scientists and project managers at ESO.” - Claus Madsen

 

“Not just a telescope, an observatory; not just an observatory, a home.” - Claus Madsen


1998: One of the first light VLT images was this picture of NGC 6302, a planetary nebula that has become known as the Bug Nebula.It was a 10-minute exposure and had a resolution of better than 0.6 arcseconds

1997: The Paranal base camp

 

Part IV: Towards New Horizons


2003: Artist’s impression of ALMA (early conceptual image of ALMA created by Herbert Zodet fellow expedition crewmember)

“One of the most important developments in the meantime was the ‘opening’ of the electromagnetic spectrum.” - Claus Madsen

“With the commissioning of the VLT, the successful relaunch of the interferometry option (VLTI), engagement in the ALMA project and the E-ELT project on the horizon there is no doubt that ESO has come to be seen as a scientific powerhouse in the world of astronomy”- Claus Madsen


1997: The Paranal base camp

 

I hope you enjoyed your guided tour through the past, present and future of ESO! Looking forward to speaking with you soon.

Tchüss!
- Herbert

#ESOultraHD





3. Ultra HD Expedition: What’s On the Agenda?
3.2.2014
Location: The La Silla Observatory, IV Región, Chile
Altitude: 2400 m
Coordinates: 29° 15' 40.2" S, 70° 43' 52.8" W


Hi, I’m Yuri Beletsky. As an astronomer with a passion for astrophotography, I enjoy revelling in the majesty of the cosmos. So this expedition is definitely an incredible opportunity for me to try to capture the glittering Chilean night sky with such immediacy that for a brief moment, the viewer will be beneath the spectacular skies of the dark and remote ESO sites. I hope to describe our Ultra HD expedition to you in this blog post in a bit more detail, so that when the expedition is upon us this March, you will have an idea of where we are travelling and for what purpose we are doing so.

Together with my colleagues, Herbert, Christoph and Babak, we will set out to capture footage at ESO’s three unique observing sites in Chile in all their grandeur using state-of-the-art Ultra HD 4K still and video cameras.

As I am based in Chile, and have spent years working as an astronomer at both La Silla and Paranal Observatory I am already familiar with two of the sites. Today, I am writing this blog post from my current post, at the Las Campanas Observatory, not far from La Silla.

I will meet the rest of the team on 26 March 2014 following their two-day journey into the deserts of the southern hemisphere and we will begin the expedition at Paranal, a 2600-metre peak, south of Antofagasta, Chile, and home to ESO’s flagship facility, the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) before driving to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array at 5000 metres above sea level. Then we will spend the last few days of the two-week Ultra HD expedition here, at La Silla.

I have been fascinated by the night skies since childhood. Astronomy is innovative. It uses some of the most advanced technologies and sophisticated techniques available to scientists and engineers, always pushing them to take one step further and triggering innovation. Therefore, it is important and fitting that the tools we use to communicate the complex elegance of the Universe should also push the boundaries of innovation, as with Ultra HD.

The expedition is revolutionary in terms of visual technology. With four times the resolution of HD, Ultra HD allows us to capture more depth than ever before. We will use a multitude of footage types, ranging from time-lapse images, stills, videos and panoramas from each site, as well as time-lapses in planetarium fulldome format showing the landscapes, observatory technology and the sky itself.

I’m looking forward to being a part of ESO’s Ultra HD journey and creating stunning material that inspires, astounds, educates and transports the viewer from wherever they are in the world, to inky skies illuminated by glittering stars and over the awe-inspiring landscape of northern Chile.

Eyes to the skies!

- Yuri
#ESOultraHD






2. Seeing ESO in a Whole New Dimension
30.1.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 m
Coordinates: 48° 15' 36.90" N, 11° 40' 15.16" E


Hi, my name is Herbert Zodet, ESO’s Video Coordinator. I work at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching, near Munich in Germany. It is just 71 days until we embark on our adventure to Chile. As we prepare for this trip, here’s a bit more information about Ultra High Definition resolution and some of the history behind ESO’s videos.

Offering Ultra HD content takes us across a new frontier in the way that we communicate our awe-inspiring Universe. We first introduced HD video in 2008 in our public video archive and we now have over 1600 videos in HD. We are really excited that Ultra HD will now be one of the many video formats that are offered in our video collection.

The Ultra HD 4K format measures 3840 pixels × 2160 lines. That’s twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of standard 1080p HDTVs — so four times the resolution in total. This format has been under development since 2003, but in 2013 rose in popularity and has become the standard resolution for many higher-end TVs.

Few organisations produce Ultra HD content and it is so far quite difficult to find. Many internet streaming services have announced they will soon show Ultra HD video content and it has made the news recently after the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014. ESO may be the first scientific organisation to produce this format at regular intervals. We are rather excited to be able to show the beauties of the Universe in this new dimension.

ESO’s sites in Chile are some of the best in the world to be able to view our night sky. The still, dry atmospheric conditions make each of these sites the most crystal-clear of places to take our footage, which will be further enhanced by this new and visually stunning high resolution format.

Here’s a sneak preview of the first ESO Ultra HD quality videos released. Imagine yourself at the top of Paranal, far above the clouds, lying back and surrounded by the darkness of the Atacama Desert, with only the jewels of stars above and close to the most advanced ground-based telescopes in the world. You will soon come close to this through the new medium of Ultra HD.

- Herbert
#ESOultraHD

 

 


 

1. Setting Our Sights On Chile
27.1.2014
Location: Innsbruck, Austria
Altitude: 574 m
Coordinates: 47.2667° N, 11.3833° E

My name is Christoph Malin and I am based near Innsbruck, Austria. I have been at the frontline of the new art of time-lapse filming since 2010, specialising in low-light photography, and I am captivated by the beauty of the night sky. I regularly produce premium time-lapse content for international TV documentaries, and am a specialist on motion control and time-lapse processing. This is my first blog entry for ESO’s expedition into the Ultra High Definition Universe, as one of the four Photo Ambassadors who are embarking on a trip of a lifetime. Even though we won’t set out until March, this blog will begin here with a brief introduction to the expedition.

Our destination: the Atacama Desert — dry and high, with some of the world’s best conditions for astronomical observations.

Our aim: to record stunning Ultra HD and Fulldome images at each location — with our 4K camera as well as a multitude of Digital SLR camera rigs.

The opportunity to use Ultra HD technology to capture the awe-inspiring landscapes that surround ESO’s observatories at La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor is very exciting. I hope we will inspire and captivate many viewers along the way. As a Photo Ambassador for ESO, I will be working alongside Yuri Beletsky, Babak Tafreshi and Herbert Zodet in northern Chile. ESO builds and operates its observatories in the southern hemisphere as here there are the best views of the Milky Way and the two Magellanic Clouds, which glitter overhead.

Using a variety of techniques — my favourite being time-lapse photography using motion controlled rigs — we will take advantage of the inky black Chilean sky and use our 4K camera to capture footage with an ultra high resolution that brings our images as close to real life as possible. The resolution of Ultra HD is four times greater than that of HD and it adds an extra depth and sharpness to our shots of the mesmerising landscapes that the southern hemisphere has to offer.

We will spend two weeks travelling between the three ESO sites,taking us high into the Andes. ALMA is based on the Chajnantor Plateau, at 5000 metres above sea level in the Chilean Andes, where we will work at night under a high and crystal-clear sky. La Silla is located 600 kilometres north of Santiago, at 2400 metres above sea level on the edge of the Atacama Desert, and the Very Large Telescope is located on Cerro Paranal, a 2600-metre-high peak south of Antofagasta. So the stars will shine bright, and we will be low on oxygen and sleep — all in the name of astrophotography.

I will sign off here, but for now, here is a video showcasing the sites that we will be visiting.

Until next time.

- Christoph
#ESOultraHD

 

 

 

< 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 > Newer blog posts

 

Here we will share our thoughts as we embark our revolutionary Ultra HD expedition, explain some of the background of the trip and then take you on our journey to each of ESO’s sites as we capture time-lapses, stills, videos, panoramas in Ultra HD and time-lapses in planetarium fulldome format. We aim to share what is set to be an amazing opportunity throughout our 17-day adventure. We very much hope you can feel you are with us as we provide you with such high-quality resolution at the world’s best sites for astronomy.

 

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Read more about the Expedition in the PDF brochure (26.7 MB)