Easter Island Astronomy

Easter Island is a wonderful place to watch the stars. Jean-Claude and Annick Merlin have kindly provided EIF with some amazing celestial images from Rapa Nui. All images were taken in one shot; none are photomontages. Some exposures are quite long (several minutes) and were taken with an equatorial star tracking system. Enjoy!

(All images are copyright Jean-Claude and Annick Merlin)

Moai Piro Piro at Rano Raraku is illuminated by the moonlight. The Milky Way is visible at right with Centaurus and the Southern Cross above the clouds. At left, constellations Piscis Australis (with bright star Fomalhaut), Grus and Pavonis are visible above moai Piro Piro’s head.

Rising of the large Magellanic cloud in front of the moai at Ahu Akivi.

Beginning of night at Tahai. The Southern Cross and Eta Carinae nebula shine above the city lights of Hanga Roa.

Less than two days after the new Moon, a very small crescent is setting behind Ahu Huri A Urenga. Earthshine is also well visible.

Moonlight at Tongariki. First quarter Moon is visible on the upper right corner. The Milky Way with Centaurus is visible between clouds.

 Shortly after dusk at Tahai, the southern Milky Way with Centaurus and Southern Cross extends over Hanga Roa city lights. Constellation Scorpius is at the zenith. At right from Ahu Ko Te Riku, the bright trio of planet Mars (red), planet Saturn and Spica (Alpha Virginis) shines on the white diffuseness of the zodiacal light.

Shortly after dusk at Huri A Urenga with the moai “the astronomer”. Colorful western horizon with young Moon and the bright trio of planet Mars (red), planet Saturn and Spica (Alpha Virginis) above.

From Ahu Akivi, northward and eastward. On the left, the northern Milky Way with Cygnus, Lyra, Aquila; on the right, the brightest star is Fomalhaut (Alpha Piscis Australis) with constellation Grus above.

(All images on this page are copyright Jean-Claude and Annick Merlin)