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36. Bringing You The Universe in an Immersive Planetarium Experience
Date: 24.6.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 metres
Coordinates: 48°15'36.90"N 11°40'15.16"E

Hi everyone,

We’re pleased to share with you here our results which can be used for an immersive planetarium experience. We bring you a range of fulldome stills, fulldome timelapses and 360 degree panoramas all in superb ultra HD quality, which you can freely download from ESO’s website in the highest quality. This adds to a large variety of image and video formats on the site as we add a new dimension to our stunning footage of the cosmos.

This ultra HD photograph taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition captures ESO's Paranal Observatory in this 360 degree fish-eye/fulldome view. The swirling Milky Way can be seen at its centre. Credit: ESO/Y.Beletsky

A fish-eye/fulldome time-lapse of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — a huge new facility at 5000 metres above sea level on the Chajnantor Plateau, dedicated to studying the cool Universe. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/B.Tafreshi (

A UHD fish-eye/fulldome time-lapse showing night sky above La Silla Observatory. The ESO 3.6-metre telescope can be seen below. Credit: ESO/B.Tafreshi (

ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) plans to produce further high-quality material for use in planetarium shows, with our upcoming ESO SupernovaPlanetarium and Visitor Centre in mind here in Garching. The ESO Ultra HD Expedition is the first such initiative in this.

See the full ESO announcement for further details.

All the best,

- Herbert

35. Capturing the Chilean Night Sky in Ultra HD
Date: 30.5.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 metres
Coordinates: 48°15'36.90"N 11°40'15.16"E

Hi again everyone, it’s Herbert!

We have spent the last few weeks putting together a spectacular ESOcast on our Ultra HD Expedition. It tells the story of our journey across the arid Atacama Desert, as we travelled to each of ESO’s observing sites on our mission to capture a wide range of content including timelapses, stills and panoramas in Ultra HD quality.

The jewels of the night are revealed in the Chilean Atacama Desert, providing some spectacular views of our cosmos. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

The Chilean night sky is revealed over the Atacama Desert, allowing for some stunning shots by our ESO photo ambassadors. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

The Milky Way cuts across the Chilean night sky at La Silla Observatory. A suite of telescopes at the site can be seen, many which are used by the ESO Member States for targeted projects. The Moon and Jupiter can be seen to shine very brightly to the right. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

Some of the footage shows us working at some of the best sites for astronomy, capturing views of our Universe in fine detail. Many of ESO’s telescopes can also be seen in action in these sequences.

Some of the best footage from the expedition can be previewed in the episode. All this Ultra HD content is available to everyone under a very liberal licensing model. The large number of timelapses from the expedition can be downloaded here at full resolution.

A compilation of timelapses taken from each of ESO's three observing sites during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. Credit: ESO. Music: John Dyson

The sun sets over the Atacama Desert, ready for a night of gazing up at the crisp Chilean night sky and to capture it in Ultra HD quality. Credit: ESO/B.Tafreshi

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty and wonder of our night sky in this special edition of the ESOcast.

ESOcast 65: The Chilean Sky in Ultra High Definition. Credit: ESO

All the best,

- Herbert

34. Bringing the Universe into a Whole New Dimension
Date: 09.5.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 metres
Coordinates: 48°15'36.90"N 11°40'15.16"E

Hi all, Herbert again!

Since the expedition ended, there has been a lot for us to do in terms of processing, colour-correcting and combining all the footage we have taken. We captured many Angelbird SSD disks full of material at each of the ESO sites we visited — Paranal, ALMA and La Silla.

The sun sets at La Silla Observatory in this stunning panorama shot of the site. In the centre, the ESO 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope and to the right, ESO 3.6-metre telescope with me at work. The infrastructure of the site is also used by many of the ESO Member States for targeted projects (left). Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

A fish-eye view of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Overhead, the Milky Way shines brightly. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

Much of the state-of-the-art Ultra HD equipment we used has now been shipped off back to the expedition’s technology partners. Many thanks again to Canon, Kids of All Ages, Novoflex, Angelbird, Sharp, Vixen, eMotimo, Peli, Magic Multi Media, LRTimelapse, Intecro and Granite Bay Software!

We have said goodbye to the Canon® EOS-1D C 4K camera which gave us some amazing shots (we hope you agree) and to the camera supports and accessories by Novoflex which were particularly useful high up on Chajnantor Plateau where we experienced some extremely cold, high winds.

Our graphics team at ESO Headquarters have been busy scrutinising every detail of the IMAX-size 4K images and videos using a professional Sharp UHD display PN-K32 screen which offers extraordinarily high resolution. The editing work is done on two special Magic Multimedia PC workstations built and optimised for seamless multi-layer 4K video editing with the Adobe Suite (each with 48 cores and 128 GB of RAM!).

We are now very happy to present some of our first results in breathtaking Ultra HD format — bringing the Universe into a whole new dimension. See the official ESO announcement for further details.

All the best,

- Herbert

33. Expedition day 16: Home
Date: 09.4.2014
Location: ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München
Altitude: 508 metres
Coordinates: 48°15'36.90"N 11°40'15.16"E

Hi all, Herbert here again!

After a long journey from Santiago via São Paulo, Brazil, we have arrived back safely in Munich. Luckily our flights were all on time as we landed at around 09:20, just ahead of schedule.

Christoph and I called in at ESO Headquarters following our landing at Munich airport, which is where I’m writing to you from. As you can imagine we are both exhausted after a very long overnight trip. After lunch, I will head home to sleep and Christoph will return home to nearby Innsbruck, Austria (about an hour and a half away from Munich).

Christoph testing the ground-breaking Canon® EOS-1D C 4K camera near to Cerro Paranal, home to the VLT. In the background, a “TimeLapse Bot” – an autonomous GBTimelapse Rig, using XTPower powerbanks for powering a Emotimo TB3 motion control and a Canon 6D – is set up for some long distance shots of the site. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

Babak testing the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker on the VLT platform. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

Yuri and I on the VLT platform testing some of our equipment at sunset, next to one of the Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) – 1.8-metre telescopes that feed light to the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at ESO's Paranal Observatory. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

We have had a very fruitful past couple of weeks at ESO’s astronomical sites. There is a lot of work still to do to process and combine all the footage we have taken – a staggering 10 TB of images and video.

In just two weeks we hope to release our first batch of Ultra HD content, so stay tuned!

All the best,

- Herbert

32. Expedition day 15: Homeward Bound
Date: 08.4.2014
Location: ESO Guesthouse, Santiago, Chile
Altitude: 2021 metres
Coordinates: 33°25'2.384"S 70°34'41.016"W

Hi, Christoph here!

Late last night we arrived back at the lovely ESO Guesthouse before our flight back to Europe, for which we’ll have an early start this morning — a very short night.

A look back to our time at Paranal. During the ESO Ultra HD Expedition the stars have been within our grasp. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

It is here that the team parts ways. As you read this, Herbert and I will be on our way back to Munich after a transfer at São Paulo, Brazil. We have a long journey ahead of us! Babak, on the other hand, will stay on for a few more days in Chile; whereas Yuri lives here in Santiago. All our equipment will be sent back separately in a return shipment from La Silla back to the ESO Headquarters in Munich.

This has been a wonderful trip and I’m excited to have been a part of the Ultra HD journey. I’m very happy to have had this amazing opportunity to use such innovative technology at the awe-inspiring ESO astronomical sites.

We have been able to gaze at the wonder of our Universe and capture some stunning footage at each of the ESO sites throughout the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

The Chilean skies have offered us some of the best conditions we could have hoped for. It’s a pity our time has come to an end here, but we look forward to delivering you all this Ultra HD content in the coming weeks. We have loved capturing and sharing the Universe with you for the past two weeks and hope you enjoyed following our travels through this blog.

We plan a few more updates to share the results of our trip with you.

All the best,

- Christoph

31. Expedition day 14: Santiago-bound
Date: 07.4.2014
Location: La Silla Observatory
Altitude: 2400 metres
Coordinates: 29°15'40.3"S 70°43'52.7"W

Hello, it’s Herbert!

After our last full day of shooting at La Silla Observatory yesterday, I still have time this morning and afternoon to take some daytime footage before we leave later this afternoon for Santiago.

A beautiful shot taken by Yuri of the The Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST) and the ESO 3.6-metre telescope in the background — framed by star trails in the night sky. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

Christoph, Yuri and Babak spent last night capturing the last set of nighttime time-lapses and stills of the site from sunset to sunrise. The handy GBDeflicker and GBTimelapse programmes by Granite Bay Software have been the icing on top of our time-lapse cakes, allowing us to perfect them beautifully.

When I spoke to Christoph, Yuri and Babak, they told me that the night was clear, but extremely windy. Sometimes gusts of winds reached around 20 m/s, making it hard to walk in open areas of the observatory in our quest for some shelter from the wind. Despite this, the photographers managed to obtain some great images and time lapses. I also took some nice shots of La Silla during sunset.

Christoph took this beautiful sequence at Moonset last night. This sight is one that can only be witnessed in the Atacama Desert, right here at La Silla, where we are high above the clouds. Credit: ESO/C. Malin

Christoph took the shot above from the balcony of his room. He thought it was remarkable how the Moon sinks into the ocean of clouds and is distorted a couple of times before it finally reaches the horizon. I agree!

Today, we will be backing up data and material from last night as well as packing up our equipment and belongings, ready to depart for Santiago later on today.

A final photograph of the Ultra HD team at La Silla Observatory. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

With La Silla being our last stop on this 4K photographic tour of ESO’s sites, we are soon leaving the beauty and wonder of the northern Chilean landscape. We’re very happy about the content we’ve produced.

All the best,

- Herbert


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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.




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