Moai and Large Magellanic Cloud

October 25, 2012

EasterIslandAetJCMerlin AKIVI

Photographer: Annick Merlin and Jean-Claude Merlin; Jean-Claude and Annick's Web site
Summary Authors: Annick Merlin and Jean-Claude Merlin; Jim Foster

This photograph was taken at the archeological site of Ahu Akivi on Easter Island (Chile). The Moai (the Maori name for the famous sculptures) statues seem to be contemplating the rising of the Large Magellanic Cloud. These human figures were carved from volcanic tuff and were erected more than 500 years ago -- between about 1250 and 1500. The tallest statue on the island is 32 ft tall (9.8 m). The Large Magellanic Cloud, easily visible with the unaided eye, is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, some 160,000 light years distant.

We first visited Easter Island to view the total solar eclipse of 2010. We returned this past summer to photograph the southern sky. Being alone at night, at one of the darkest locations on the planet, near the stone giants is an amazing experience. The wild horses that roam the island were often our only companions. Photo taken on August 12, 2012.

Photo details: Camera: Canon EOS 350D; 50mm focal length; aperture f/4; ISO 800; 90 second exposure; Tripod and Vixen Polarie Startracker.