Astro movie : A night at Paranal Observatory


"Zodiacal Light and Milky Way"

© Stéphane Guisard, Valère Leroy and Jean Pajus

This is a time lapse movie made from individual images taken on a tripod with a Canon 20Da camera and a 15mm lens. This accelerated movie shows the beginning of a September night at Paranal Observatory starting at sunset and finishing just after the Milky Way disappears. The zodiacal light is the  bright zone of light in the center of the movie, above the horizon. It is produced by the retro-reflection of the sunlight on cosmic dust particle presents in the Solar system. Because most of this cosmic material is located in the plane of the Solar system, the zodiacal light appears along the ecliptic. It is very often masked by light pollution or light diffused by atmospheric pollution; seing it is therefore very often  taken as a sign of good sky. On this movie made from Paranal observatory, however, we can see that the zodiacal light can be as bright as the Milky Way and can become itself a kind of 'light pollution' to the astronomer.

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 :

  1280x720.wmv (24Mb)  720x480.wmv (10Mb) (11Mb)   320x240.mp4 (1.7Mb)  320x216.mp4 (2.2Mb)   720x480.avi (12Mb)