Ultra HD Expedition: What’s On the Agenda?

Ultra HD Expedition: What’s On the Agenda?

Hi, I’m Yuri Beletsky. As an astronomer with a passion for astrophotography, I enjoy revelling in the majesty of the cosmos. So this expedition is definitely an incredible opportunity for me to try to capture the glittering Chilean night sky with such immediacy that for a brief moment, the viewer will be beneath the spectacular skies of the dark and remote ESO sites. I hope to describe our Ultra HD expedition to you in this blog post in a bit more detail, so that when the expedition is upon us this March, you will have an idea of where we are travelling and for what purpose we are doing so.

Together with my colleagues, Herbert, Christoph and Babak, we will set out to capture footage at ESO’s three unique observing sites in Chile in all their grandeur using state-of-the-art Ultra HD 4K still and video cameras.

As I am based in Chile, and have spent years working as an astronomer at both La Silla and Paranal Observatory I am already familiar with two of the sites. Today, I am writing this blog post from my current post, at the Las Campanas Observatory, not far from La Silla.

I will meet the rest of the team on 26 March 2014 following their two-day journey into the deserts of the southern hemisphere and we will begin the expedition at Paranal, a 2600-metre peak, south of Antofagasta, Chile, and home to ESO’s flagship facility, the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) before driving to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array at 5000 metres above sea level. Then we will spend the last few days of the two-week Ultra HD expedition here, at La Silla.

I have been fascinated by the night skies since childhood. Astronomy is innovative. It uses some of the most advanced technologies and sophisticated techniques available to scientists and engineers, always pushing them to take one step further and triggering innovation. Therefore, it is important and fitting that the tools we use to communicate the complex elegance of the Universe should also push the boundaries of innovation, as with Ultra HD.

The expedition is revolutionary in terms of visual technology. With four times the resolution of HD, Ultra HD allows us to capture more depth than ever before. We will use a multitude of footage types, ranging from time-lapse images, stills, videos and panoramas from each site, as well as time-lapses in planetarium fulldome format showing the landscapes, observatory technology and the sky itself.

I’m looking forward to being a part of ESO’s Ultra HD journey and creating stunning material that inspires, astounds, educates and transports the viewer from wherever they are in the world, to inky skies illuminated by glittering stars and over the awe-inspiring landscape of northern Chile.

Eyes to the skies!

- Yuri