This Man Photographed the Milky Way Through a Crystal Ball and It's Epic

Juan Carlos Munoz milky way crystal ball.jpg
(Juan Carlos Munoz Milky Way captured in a crystal ball. Photo credit: Juan Carlos Munoz)

Juan Carlos Munoz (Twitter @astro_jcm), an astronomer at the European Southen Observatory (ESO), took this stunning image of the Milky Way. It's so beautiful that it looks fake and otherworldly, like something Dr. Strange would hold in a Marvel movie before vanquishing a horde of evil creatures. 

According to Juan, while strolling through the Barrio Lastarria, one of his favorite neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile, where he lives, he stumbled across a stand selling all kinds of odd bits and artifacts. Intermixed in all of the items are a bunch of crystal balls for sale for only a few bucks, so, he bought one. According to him:

A few days later I went up to Paranal Observatory for an observing shift, and I decided to test the crystal ball as an astrophotography lens. I placed it on the handrails of ne of the entrance corridors to the Paranal residence, and put my tripod and camera below it, at an angle such the that the Milky Way was visible through the ball. 

Then I chose which lens to attach to the camera. The focal length doesn't change what you see within the ball, bit it does affect the background behind it. So, I picked a 24mm lens to get a large enough view of the Milky Way as a backdrop. 

Once I nailed the focus on the stars within the ball, I had to decide which aperture to use, and after a few attempts I chose f/4. Smaller f-numbers welded a too shallow depth of field: the edge of the ball was too blurry, and the bokeh of the background stars was too large, making it hard to discern the Milky Way. Larger f-numbers allowed very little light through, and also made the bokeh in the background smaller than I wanted."

He shot the image on his Canon 6D  with a Rokinon 24mm f/4, with an exposure time of 30 sec, at ISO 6400, for those of you looking to re-create it. Though know that he was at an elevation of over 8K feet above sea level with not a lot of light pollution nearby. 

Check out Juan's Instagram and his Twitter for more information.