Chimborazo Volcano (Ecuador)
"The closest place to the stars"

© Stéphane Guisard, Los Cielos de América

With an altitude of 6268 meters (20564 ft) above sea level, Chimborazo volcano is the highest summit in Ecuador but of course not the highest summit on the planet. This record belongs to Mount Everest (8848 metres / 29029 ft above sea level). However, because the Earth is not a perfect sphere but rather an oblate spheroid (a sphere flattened along the axis from pole to pole such that there is a bulge around the equator) and that Chimborazo is very close to the equator line (only -1 degree in latitude), Chimborazo is known as the "the farthest location from the center of the Earth". 6384.687 Km against 6382.467 Km for Everest that is, a difference of 2.220 Km/1.38 miles.

Ecuatorian people will kindly and proudly remind you about this fact "Chimborazo, el punto mas lejano del centro de la Tierra". I will personally proudly (and kindly as well) give you my version of it : "Chimborazo : El punto mas cercano a las estrellas", ("Chimborazo : the closest place to the stars") hoping that the following image manages to illustrate it.

Chimborazo and Milky Way panorama picture showing the Milky Way above the volcano. The image is a mosaic of 28 images in order to cover all the sky with a 35 mm focal length lens. The exposure time for each image is only 15 seconds with a modified Canon 5dII camera. The author chooses this unusual projection to show a 'flat' Milky Way not deformed by typical all sky projection and to make really the Milky Way looks like what it is : a galaxy. There are no 'composition' in this image, it is a true mosaic done on site, at an altitude of 5000 meters, in the dark and (very) cold.

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