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First Results from the ESO Ultra HD Expedition

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Posted May 12, 2014

The ESO Ultra HD Expedition may now be over, but there is much work being done behind-the-scenes to process and combine all the footage the team has taken — a staggering 10 TB of images and video. With four times the resolution of HD, Ultra HD takes our view of the night sky into a new, immersive dimension. The expedition team can now present some of their first results in dramatic Ultra HD footage — bringing the Universe closer than ever before.

High on the Chajnantor Plateau, some 5000 metres above sea level it can get extremely cold at the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Babak Tafreshi, one of ESO's Photo Ambassadors and part of the ESO Ultra HD Expedition team is shown here capturing the cool cosmos. The Milky Way can be seen to arc overhead.

High on the Chajnantor Plateau, some 5000 metres above sea level it can get extremely cold at the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Babak Tafreshi, one of ESO’s Photo Ambassadors and part of the ESO Ultra HD Expedition team is shown here capturing the cool cosmos. The Milky Way can be seen to arc overhead.

While the production of Ultra HD TV displays and cameras has flourished, very little Ultra HD content has been made universally available until now. ESO is now changing this by delivering free Ultra HD content to all, from consumer to broadcaster, under a very liberal licensing model.

The warm, orange and crimson glow of the night sky in the photograph provide ESO Photo Ambassador Christoph Malin with a stunning subject for his photographs. He enjoys creating impressive night-sky time-lapse images and the sparkling stars in the crimson sky, which result in spectacular photographs.

The warm, orange and crimson glow of the night sky in the photograph provide ESO Photo Ambassador Christoph Malin with a stunning subject for his photographs. He enjoys creating impressive night-sky time-lapse images and the sparkling stars in the crimson sky, which result in spectacular photographs.

A little over a month ago, ESO’s videographer Herbert Zodet and the three ESO Photo Ambassadors: Yuri Beletsky, Christoph Malin and Babak Tafreshi embarked on their expedition to Chile with the goal of capturing footage at ESO’s three observing sites in all their grandeur — using state-of-the-art Ultra HD tools [1].

The sun sets at La Silla Observatory in this stunning panorama shot of the site. In the centre, the ESO 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope and to the right,  ESO 3.6-metre telescope with ESO's Videographer, Herbert Zodet at work. The infrastructure of the site is also used by many of the ESO Member States for targeted projects (left). Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

The sun sets at La Silla Observatory in this stunning panorama shot of the site. In the centre, the ESO 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope and to the right,  ESO 3.6-metre telescope with ESO’s Videographer, Herbert Zodet at work. The infrastructure of the site is also used by many of the ESO Member States for targeted projects (left). Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

First the team visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, home to the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) — ESO’s flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. They then drove to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — a huge new facility at 5000 metres above sea level on the Chajnantor Plateau, dedicated to studying the cool Universe. Finally, the team headed to La Silla, ESO’s first observatory — home to the ESO 3.6-metre telescope and the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope [2].

High on the Chajnantor Plateau, some 5000 metres above sea level it can get extremely cold at the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Yuri Beletsky, one of ESO's Photo Ambassadors and part of the ESO Ultra HD Expedition team is shown here capturing the cool cosmos. The Milky Way can be seen to stretch overhead.

High on the Chajnantor Plateau, some 5000 metres above sea level it can get extremely cold at the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Yuri Beletsky, one of ESO’s Photo Ambassadors and part of the ESO Ultra HD Expedition team is shown here capturing the cool cosmos. The Milky Way can be seen to stretch overhead.

The team created a wide range of content including timelapsesstills and panoramas in Ultra HD quality — as well as timelapsesand stills in planetarium fulldome format — footage which will be used in fulldome planetarium shows in the ESO Supernova facility from 2017. The almost perfect atmospheric conditions at each of the sites provided crystal-clear views of the night sky, further enhancing this visually stunning production.

A fulldome/fish-eye view of La Silla Observatory showing a number of telescopes around the site, many used by ESO Member States for targeted projects. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. In centre view (at about 6 o'clock) is the Danish 1.54-metre telescope. Shown also are the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) and the ESO 3.6-metre telescope (at about 11 o'clock), as well as the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope (at about 12 o'clock). The Milky Way is seen to stretch overhead in all its brilliance.

A fulldome/fish-eye view of La Silla Observatory showing a number of telescopes around the site, many used by ESO Member States for targeted projects. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. In centre view (at about 6 o’clock) is the Danish 1.54-metre telescope. Shown also are the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) and the ESO 3.6-metre telescope (at about 11 o’clock), as well as the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope (at about 12 o’clock). The Milky Way is seen to stretch overhead in all its brilliance.

A number of impressive videos and photos are now being released, and some linked to this Announcement in the right sidebar. Direct links for more of the first results from the expedition are here:

A fulldome/fish-eye view of La Silla Observatory, showing the ESO 3.6-metre telescope in centre view, which is home to the world's foremost extrasolar planet hunter: the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). The Milky Way can be see in all its magnificence overhead. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

A fulldome/fish-eye view of La Silla Observatory, showing the ESO 3.6-metre telescope in centre view, which is home to the world’s foremost extrasolar planet hunter: the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). The Milky Way can be see in all its magnificence overhead. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

Much more is in the pipeline, so stay tuned for much more ultra HD content over the coming weeks. The very best images will be released as ESO Pictures of the Week over the coming months. Also look out for the upcoming ESOcast about the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

An ultra HD view of La Silla Observatory, showing the ESO 3.6-metre telescope in centre view, which is home to the world's foremost extrasolar planet hunter: the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). The Milky Way can be see in all its magnificence overhead. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

An ultra HD view of La Silla Observatory, showing the ESO 3.6-metre telescope in centre view, which is home to the world’s foremost extrasolar planet hunter: the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). The Milky Way can be see in all its magnificence overhead. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

Notes

[1] Equipment included: Vixen Optics Polarie Star Tracker, Canon® EOS-1D C camera, Stage One Dolly and eMotimo TB3 3-axis motion control camera robot, Angelbird SSD2go, LRTimelapse software. Peli™ Cases, 4K PC workstations from Magic Multimedia, Novoflex QuadroPod system, Intecro batteries and Granite Bay Software.

[2] The full journey schedule of the expedition can be viewed here. The team shared their personal accounts of their 17-day adventure on the ESO Ultra HD Expedition blog.

A 360 degree panorama of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), high on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 metres altitude in northern Chile. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

A 360 degree panorama of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), high on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 metres altitude in northern Chile. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

Antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), on the Chajnantor Plateau, 5000m above sea level are seen in this UHD panorama. The Milky Way can be seen to stretch high above with Eta Carinae Nebula, a bright emission nebula, shown giving off its fiery red glow. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

Antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), on the Chajnantor Plateau, 5000m above sea level are seen in this UHD panorama. The Milky Way can be seen to stretch high above with Eta Carinae Nebula, a bright emission nebula, shown giving off its fiery red glow. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition.

The Milky Way glitters brightly over ALMA antennas, in this image taken by the ESO Ultra High Definition Expedition team as they capture the site in 4K quality.

The Milky Way glitters brightly over ALMA antennas, in this image taken by the ESO Ultra High Definition Expedition team as they capture the site in 4K quality.

ESO Photo Ambassador, Babak Tafreshi took this photo of teammate Yuri Beletsky taking shots amongst the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) during the the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. The Milky Way can be seen to stretch overhead.

ESO Photo Ambassador, Babak Tafreshi took this photo of teammate Yuri Beletsky taking shots amongst the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) during the the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. The Milky Way can be seen to stretch overhead.

Source: ESO, image credits: ESO/B. Tafreshi

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