Thursday, 15 August 2013

Chile Diary - Day 5

Woke at around 3am this morning for a final dose of astrophotography at ESO's Paranal Observatory.

I joined Pete Lawrence - he's the real pro and his images will come later.

Here are some of my efforts, shot on a Canon 650D.

Note the satellite - no doubt breaching the 40km/h limit

The VLT fires its laser into my star trails

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

The future E-ELT site - the peak at the centre

Went back to bed around 6am for some rest, then we embarked on a long drive through the Atacama Desert.

(I say "we" - the driving was done by our ESO host, Laura)

Some bleak landscape as we passed some of the world's biggest copper mines.

We also had a quick look at villages that were hastily abandoned as industrial forces pushed and pulled at livelihoods. The village cemeteries seemed particularly poingnant.

But as we approached the Andes, the landscape became increasingly spectacular.

We now find ourselves at San Pedro de Atacama, a charming village at the base of the Chajnantor plateau.

Tomorrow we climb beyond 5000m - so high we take oxygen with us.

There, if all goes to plan, we'll come face-to-face with ALMA, one of the grandest astronomical projects on Earth.

The videos from the trip will eventually appear at Deep Sky Videos and Sixty Symbols.

PS: Although I am away, a few videos were pre-planned and have gone live on Numberphile and Computerphile.

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