I rarely leave home without my trusted camera so I have been fortunate enough to capture a number of memorable images during my travels around the world – but of all of the photos I have taken, perhaps my favourite were taken not of this world, but from beyond. On our way to back to Peru from the Bolivian Salt Flat tour, Chris and I decided to stop off for a short break in Northern Chile – San Pedro de Atacama, to be precise. The town itself is a pleasant little stopover with a number of lovely little restaurants and some good options for outdoor activities such as sand boarding. But for us, and Chris in particular, the main reason we were there was to gaze upwards at the night sky through an Atacama Observatory Tour.

atacama observatory tour san pedro de atacama

San Pedro de Atacama

atacama observatory tour plaza

Being located within a high altitude desert means San Pedro de Atacama has some of the clearest skies in the world. Which is great news for people like my husband who is a bit of an astronomy geek. So the first evening we could – taking into account the effect a bright moon can have on night sky visibility – we signed up to an Atacama observatory tour and headed out into the desert to a remote observatory where the slightly eccentric French astronomer Alaine from Spaceobs has erected an array of telescopes.

atacama observatory tour atacama desert

The Atacama Desert

atacama observatory tour sunset

I didn’t think that the sky could be more beautiful than this…

atacama observatory tour telescopes at space obs

…until I saw the incredible night sky in the desert (source)

As I only had my point & shoot camera with me (silly me!) we weren’t able to adequately capture most of the incredible images we were able to see that night, including of a local nebula and neighbouring galaxies, but I did manage to capture two photos which give a glimpse into the amazing views we were treated to.

atacama observatory tour moon

Have you ever seen the moon so clearly?

atacama observatory tour saturn 2

Or Saturn for that matter?

Of all of the sights I’ve seen on my travels I think it will be some time before I witness something more awe-inspiring than a close-up image of the moon or the clearly identifiable ring around Saturn, which seemed so close I felt as if I could reach out and grab it. Our San Pedro de Atacama observatory tour was a truly humbling experience which reminded me how remarkable the universe – or even just our solar system – really is.

Where was the most amazing night sky you have ever seen? Tell me in the comment section below.

 

Disclaimer: We did not receive a complimentary or discounted tour through Spaceobs, however, we enjoyed the tour and the excellent knowledge of Alaine so much that we wanted to give them a special mention here.

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

18 Thoughts on “Photos from out of this world – Literally

  1. Amazing photos! We didn’t do that tour when we were in Atacama…maybe there will be a ‘next time’!
    Emily recently posted…E-Double in PragueMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on August 1, 2014 at 8:11 am said:

      Thanks Emily. Yes, if you ever go again then you should go for it. The other observatory tours aren’t as good though. Some friends went with another operator and they didn’t like it.

  2. Wow—that Saturn image is so cool! I downloaded an app recently that maps out the sky at night, so you can see the light from Saturn, Mars and Jupiter with the naked eye and a cheap telescope. So much cooler to see the actual details with some proper equipment! It kinda makes me want to build a giant telescope in my backyard—or maybe just travel to Atacama (might be easier). Thanks for sharing, Tammy!
    Ryan recently posted…Day Trips From Ljubljana: 5 Reasons You Need To Visit Lake Bled, SloveniaMy Profile

  3. On our visit to SPA we missed the star tour because the moon was too bright. Next time! But we did see, for the first time in our lives, Venus before sunrise and the Southern Cross. A consolation prize, to say the least.
    Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted…How much we spent traveling the world for a yearMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on August 5, 2014 at 9:24 pm said:

      Oh that’s a shame. But at least you saw the other star signs. I was amazed how many more star signs there are in the Southern hemisphere that aren’t in the northern hemisphere.

  4. Wow! That looks amazing! I will definitely take that tour when I visit Atacama.
    Suki F recently posted…Top 3 Spots for Salsa Dancing in LondonMy Profile

  5. I wish I’d done this now!! It looks incredible!
    Arianwen recently posted…Why It’s Impossible Not to LOVE Fraser IslandMy Profile

  6. Great photos! We’ve always wanted to try space photography, but have been a little intimidated by it. Thanks for sharing about Spacebobs.
    Lance recently posted…Travel Hacking with Frequent Flyer UpgradesMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on August 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm said:

      Thanks Lance! If I had known that the sky would be so amazing I would have taken my dslr with me. But as the tour was so late and we didnt know our bus would bring us straight to our hotel I only took my point and shoot. Next time I will bring my dslr and tripod to capture that amazing night sky.

  7. How incredible!! These photos are just gorgeous and those pink skies!! And to have seen Saturn like that – just incredible!
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…El Calafate, Patagonia – Beries, Birds and The Best RestaurantsMy Profile

  8. quite incredible, and you captured that with just a point and press! It must have been incredible in the flesh!
    anna parker recently posted…Flashback Friday Travel Photo Memories – 3 – South AfricaMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on August 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm said:

      It was incredible. I have never seen so many stars and galaxies in my life. There is no light pollution in the desert, so all you can see is stars. It is beautiful!

  9. Oh wow! I’ve never been able to capture decent photos of the moon or any of the planets – These photos are brilliant, especially with a point and shoot! I bet it’s amazing being out in the desert like that with little to no light pollution, there is something really beautiful about the night sky and the stars.

    • Tammyonthemove on October 18, 2014 at 8:07 am said:

      It was incredibly beautiful Paul. I have never seen so many stars in my life. Luckily the astronomer was an expert in setting up all of our cameras to get that one shot. He was amazing!

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