Darkest Sky 360-degree Panorama

By: Stephane Guisard


Region: Americas

Site: Cerro Paranal - Chile

Date: October 2010

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Dark starry sky is an essential beauty of our natural environment but it is also astronomically important. Skyglow caused by light pollution, moonlight and lights from other celestial and atmospheric sources does not allow us to see the darkest possible sky. TWAN photographer Stephane Guisard achieved the darkest night in the Atacama Desert of Chile, near Cerro Paranal observatory (the mountain in the middle), where there is no light pollution all around the horizon. To achieve the darkest possible sky he chose a new moon night (no moon) around mid-night (no twilight and minimum brightness of zodiacal light)in a time when the Milky Way has touched all around the horizon with the minimum share in causing airglow. So the light around the horizon in this all-sky view is not from urban areas, its the disc of our home galaxy, the Milky Way (similar condition is possible to achieve in March and April in the northern hemisphere). There are many sights in this 360-degree panorama. Click on the constellation icon above the image to see all the labels. On the left the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of our Milky Way, are visible. On the right is Orion and the red glow of Barnardís Loop. The Andromeda Galaxy is also easy to see in the middle. This image is also released in an amazing all-sky view video. See the zoomable version of the image. Stephane Guisard -

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