The heaven vault in 360°, by Serge Brunier

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Already known for his video “24 hours of eternity in Atacama“, Serge Brunier has recently made a 360° image of the vault of heaven, entitled “One thousand billion worlds – the sky of Earth”, with the help of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The photographer shot the photos within a period of time of about one year, from 3 different places poor in light pollution:

- The Acatama desert, Chile, for the images that were to be shot in the Southern hemisphere (La Silla and Cerro Paranal observatories, and mount Cerro Ventarrones).
- The peaks near Castellane, France, to shoot some images near the polar star.
- Palma island, Canary, Spain, for the rest of the photos (Roque de los Muchachos observatory).

1200 photos were needed to create this giant panorama of the heaven vault: 300 frames of 4 bracketed images. The exposure of each image was 6 minutes, thus the global exposure time was about 120 hours.


The shooting was made with a Nikon D3 and a 50mm lens. Within the 6 minutes of exposure, the Earth moves enough to create an apparent motion of the sky. This was corrected thanks to a small equatorial mount, moving in the opposite direction and making a whole circle in 24 hours precisely around the Earth’s axis of rotation.


Frédéric Tapissier, a friend of Serge Brunier, was in charge of assembling the images together. He chose our software Autopano Giga to stitch the 300 frames. The result is an image of 800 million pixels, representing the entirety of the heaven vault. He then used Autopano Tour to create the interactive version of the image in Flash format, into which you can dive in and navigate in the galaxy: a totally new experience.

Learn more

Web page of the image “One thousand billion worlds”

The image was presented in an exhibition that took place in the Casino of Monte-Carlo in September:


  • Jaap Roskam | Nov 2, 2009 at 1 h 33 min

    What an astonishing achievement ! First conceiving the brilliant idea which probably took one second, but then starting the project AND ABOVE ALL completing it with such great results. In my humble opinion as almost retired analogue film photographer, who started commercial photography on KodaColor I film , I dare to state that Serge Brunier with his unique project made HISTORY This achievement can never be equalled and it should find its eternal place in the ranks of the worlds best photograph(s)(ers) of all time.
    Congratulations from Australia !! Jaap Roskam

  • Fred | Jun 13, 2010 at 6 h 28 min

    ‘One thousand billion worlds”, is breathtaking photography. I kind of got lost looking at it and began wondering what are place really is in the world. It seems like a “spiritual” connection but at the same time how insignificant we are in relation to other galaxies and maybe even universes.

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