Seeing the Beginning of Time

My timelapse videos have become part of the documentary Seeing the Beginning of Time by Thomas Lucas. The documentary narrates how astronomers use large telescopes and supercomputers to unveil the mysteries of the Universe.

Wonders of the Chilean sky

This video is a trailer for a larger timelapse created from the images I took while observing for the Dark Energy Survey (see below for details). It consists of around 2,500 individual camera RAW images that I have processed with LRTimelapse . I expect to finish the full timelapse film later this year.

Observing for the Dark Energy Survey

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile is one of the best sites for astronomy in the world. The Dark Energy Survey uses the 4m Blanco Telescope at this site to image around one eighth of the sky over the course of five years, creating one of the largest and deepest maps of the cosmos ever created. In November 2016, I went to Chile to observe for this project. The "selfie" below is the result of both careful planning and a good portion of luck:
To obtain a good exposure of the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds behind the telescope, I set the camera exposure time to 30 seconds. To illuminate the foreground while keeping the rest of the picture dark I used the screen of my phone; it only looks like a strong light source because of the long exposure time. The tricky part is to stand completely still during the entire exposure. The lucky element is that I also caught the laser guide star of the adaptive optics system at the Gemini telescope (located at Cerro Pachón, about 10km away). The laser is too faint to be seen with your naked eye from this distance, so I was amazed myself when I spotted it in the picture afterwards.