Star trails at Paranal Observatory

© Stéphane Guisard "Los Cielos de Chile"

The images below are long exposures tripod astrophotos taken with a Canon 20Da  camera and a wide field lens. They were taken at Paranal Observatory in the Atacama region, north of Chile. The several hours cumulated exposures make the star leave light trails on the camera due to the Earth rotation.

The first image below shows the 4x 8m telescope domes of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). The camera was pointed west and towards the celestial equator. The stars on the left of the image seem to rotate around the Southern Celestial Pole (which is the projection in the sky of the Earth South pole) while the stars to the right seem to rotate around the Northern Celestial Pole. The stars  located at the celestial equator make straight lines.

This image below shows Paranal Observatory taken from the distance. The Southern celestial pole is located just outside the left hand side of the picture. The Pacific ocean is on the right, below the clouds. The landscape was lit by an old Moon that appeated at the end of the cumulated exposures.