Sky in Motion above the Very Large Telescope

By: Stephane Guisard


Region: Americas

Site: Cerro Paranal - Chile

Date: December 2010

Time-lapde video: A dark starry night begins in Chile as seen above Cerro Paranal observatory; one of the world's best sites for astronomical observations and the location for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array. The four 8-meter telescopes of the VLT are observing under the band of the Milky Way. The large (LMC) and small (SMC) Magellanic clouds are visible at top. The yellow light from the closer dome is a laser guide star for Adaptive Optics (AO), a technology to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effects of rapidly changing optical distortion, most commonly used to remove the effects of atmospheric distortion. AO systems require a wavefront reference source in order to correct atmospheric distortion and because bright stars are not available in all parts of the sky, the system shine a laser into the atmosphere to create a yellow artificial "star" in the 95 km altitude sodium cloud around the Earth. The night Time Lapse movies presented here were taken at ESO Paranal observatory (Chile). This all sky video is made by a special design fish eye lens and high resolution CCD camera, providing a quality video for very large screens and plantarium domes. See this video in 360-degree panoramic view. Stephane Guisard -

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