You may have looked up before on a cool, clear night to see the hazy glow of the Milky Way stretching across the sky, but probably nothing like this. The video above, a mesmerizing time-lapse by photographer Nicholas Buer, features the otherworldly landscape and incredibly clear night sky of Chile’s Atacama desert — the same place that the European Southern Observatory selected to build its enormous telescope arrays that allow astronomers to get their best ground-based views of the universe.

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Nicholas describes the high and dry location on his Vimeo page:

The Atacama is well-known for what are arguably the cleanest, darkest skies on Earth. The dry air adds an extra transparency and this coupled with the altitude creates a night sky like no other. I visited at a time when Venus was situated quite close to the centre of the Milky Way; an astronomical event that only takes place every 8 years or so. I also timed my visit with the Autumn equinox which is a good time of year to capture Zodiacal light; the celestial phenomenon caused by sunlight scattering interplanetary space dust in the Zodiacal cloud. It stretches across the ecliptic and glows for a short while after sunset like a UFO beam and I was lucky enough to witness this every night I stepped out into the dark.

“Ancients,” the result of Nicholas’ long voyage to San Pedro de Atacama and 12 days of shooting in a harsh, remote location, is simply amazing.

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“I battled through with little food and less sleep, language barriers and I even broke down in the middle of nowhere at one point, but at least the sunset was nice that evening!” Nicholas wrote. ”By the end of this trip me, my kit and my car had taken a real battering but it was all worth it, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

To see more of Nicholas’ photography, visit

Video © Nicholas Buer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Music composed by Shudan.