Astro movie : A night at Paranal Observatory


"Paranal and the Laser Guide Star"

© Stéphane Guisard, Valère Leroy and Jean Pajus

This is a time lapse movie made from individual images taken with a Canon 20Da camera and a 8mm lens. This accelerated movie shows a complete night at Paranal Observatory starting at sunset and finishing at dawn. That night, the Laser Guide Star Facility was in use and its yellow sodium Laser beam left its footprint on our movie. The laser beam creates a Laser Guide Star in the high atmosphere, 90 km above us. This 'bright' artificial star helps the adaptive optics system located in the main telescope, to measure and correct the distorsions of the images produced by the atmosphere, in real time and several hundreds of times per second.

The bright part of the Milky Way, containing the galactic center, is disappearing to the west on the left hand side of the movie. The Andromeda galaxy is visible also, as a diffused and elongated spot crossing the sky just above the domes. One can also see the Pleiades and "upside down" Orion constellation rising (
remember this movie is done from the Southern hemisphere) together with the other half of our Milky Way . Finally the moon lightens the morning sky just before sunrise.


Image acquisition by Stéphane Guisard

Sounds and Music by Valère Leroy
Movie making by Jean Pajus.


The following animated gif is only a very rough preview of the movie. We highly recommend you to download the full movie. It is available in different formats and sizes for Windows, Macintosh and even ipod users by clicking on one of the following download links :

1200x800.wmv (72Mb)   1080x720.wmv (34Mb)  720x480.wmv (14Mb) (14Mb)   320x216.mp4 (2.7Mb)    720x480.avi (14Mb)