Astrophotography gets ‘shook’ during earthquake

A composite image of stars taken during an earthquake in Chile.

Photographing the sky with a high-powered telescope during an earthquake can leave the stars in your pictures looking less than stellar. Instead of looking like twinkling dots or streaks of light, they’ll bear a strong resemblance to readouts from an earthquake-measuring instrument.

That’s what researchers at the La Silla Observatory in Chile discovered when they looked at images taken by one of their telescopes during a strong earthquake that hit near the coast about 55 miles away from the observatory. The earthquake struck on January 20th, just as the robotic TAROT telescope was tracking satellites in orbit.

As the ground shook, the telescope kept operating, taking three pictures of geostationary satellites, each with a 10-second…

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