Mauna Kea – Fulldome (fisheye) images

By on December 1, 2014 in

While there is now a large number of truly breathtaking full dome planetarium shows (covering a wide range of scientific topics) available to planetaria worldwide, there is clearly a need for low-cost (or even free) full-dome content, to allow planetaria to stretch their programming capabilities.   With this goal in mind, Science on the Half Sphere (as part of CosmoQuest) will host a wide variety of full-dome images that can be readily used in other planetaria (and free for use; see copyright notice below).  SotHS is a partnership between CosmoQuest and people at the Ward Beecher Planetarium, at Youngstown State University.

Contact sheet for all 56 fulldome stills of the Mauna Kea Observatories

All 56 fulldome stills of the Mauna Kea Observatories; these are freely available in any of 3 resolutions

This page includes a series of images of telescopes on Mauna Kea, one of the foremost astronomical observatories in the world.   With a summit located at 13, 796 feet (4205 m), the dark and (often) clear skies make Mauna Kea one of the finest locations for which international astronomers can taken high quality data of the many wonders of the universe.

These images are available for free for non-commercial use, provided proper image credit is given.  Funding for the equipment and taking of these images was provided through a National Science Foundation research grant (AST-0908377), as part of the broader impact for a large-scale survey of globular clusters in the Virgo galaxy cluster.  This research is but one of many facets of the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey (NGVS), a continuing program that makes use of data from some of the observatories on Mauna Kea; in particular, the project is based on the incredible imaging capabilities of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

About the Images : the fisheye images were taken with a Canon 7D camera with a 5.6mm fisheye lens (custom setup from Dome3D).    Images are provided as PNG images in 3 different resolutions : 1024×1024 pixels, 2048×2048 pixels, and 4096×4096 pixels.  The vast majority of the images were HDR (High Dynamic Range) processed, from a combination of 3 bracketed exposures taken at different apertures.

Please enjoy the images!   If you do use any of these images in your programs, please let Durrell know via email (prdurrell ‘at’ edu); CosmoQuest and the NSF  are interested in knowing these images are being used for their intended purpose.

Dr. Patrick Durrell
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
Youngstown State University


NOTE: the links below are for .zip files containing the images in the different resolutions (and links to the telescope websites).

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) – 9 images   1K   2K   4K
Gemini North Telescope  (Gemini Observatory) – 14 images   1K   2K   4K
James-Clark Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) – 5 images   1K   2K   4K
Submillimeter Array (SMA) – 2 images (all resolutions)
Mauna Kea Summit – 20 images   1K   2K    4K
Night Sky from Mauna Kea – 6 images   1K   2K   4K


We were on CosmoQuest’s Hangoutathon on June 16th, 2013 to talk about these images.  The hangout-a-thon can be viewed below:

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Matt Mascheri at Dome3D, who customized the camera setup and the training for the production of these images.  Many of the images were taken with the help and guidance of Jean-Charles Cuillandre at the CFHT, Joy Pollard and Peter Michaud at the Gemini Observatory, and Glen Petitpas at the SMA.

Copyright Notice – these fisheye images are made available under a Creative Commons license, and are made available for FREE for non-commercial use, provided proper image credit is given (varies with each image; refer to image metadata).

About Pamela Gay

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