Venus, Jupiter and the Art of Patience

This remarkable photo shows the ESO La Silla observatory in the foreground with the planets Venus and Jupiter low in the sky and the Milky Way drifting behind them. Yet it took Zdenek Bardon, the photographer, three nights to capture this stunning image; astrophotographers are subject to the whims of the weather and this photo was no exception. He had to wait three days for a crystal clear night with no clouds and low humidity to capture Venus, Jupiter and the Milky Way in all their glory.

La Silla is an exceptional location for astronomy because it has relatively low light pollution which allows the stars to appear crystal clear — although lights from human dwellings are visible on the horizon in this image. The site also offers exceptionally low humidity thanks to its elevation of 2400 metres above sea level. High humidity is a problem for both professional astronomers and astrophotographers. Mirrors and lenses risk being filmed over by condensation and some parts of the electromagnetic spectrum are absorbed by the denser water vapour present in high-humidity atmosphere. 

On most nights, this observation site does not experience atmospheric disturbances such as clouds and rain, but very unusually Bardon needed to wait two extra nights for this shot. And it was worth the wait! Not only does it show how beautiful the views are in the Atacama desert, it also demonstrates the high-quality viewing conditions that both the 3.6-metre telescope and the New Technology Telescope, run by ESO, enjoy. 

The Milky Way appears as the ribbon of stars across the horizon. Venus is the largest spot of light on the left side of the screen and Jupiter is the smaller dot of light below and slightly to the right.


About the Image

Release date:3 February 2020, 06:00
Size:4944 x 3294 px

About the Object

Name:La Silla
Type:Unspecified : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky
Unspecified : Technology : Observatory
Category:La Silla

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