The Eternal Sky: A Short Film about Building the Simons Observatory (Part 1)

By looking for signs of cosmic inflation, the Simons Observatory will answer questions about the origin of the universe. First in a series.

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High in the mountains of Chile, the hardscrabble landscape of the Atacama Desert extends endlessly across the horizon. There is no grass, no water, and not much oxygen. It’s the perfect place to figure out how the universe began.

Sponsored by the Simons Foundation, “The Eternal Sky” is the first of several short films to highlight the science and the people behind the project. Placing critical importance on understandability for viewers not familiar with cosmology, Kellner strikes a balance between art and science. “Not being a science person myself, I thought: If I can explain this with as much poetry and beauty as it deserves, then we can really reach a lot of people,” she says.

This first installment in the series features next-generation drone footage, which Kellner uses to show the breadth of the landscape and the scope of the project. The facilities are located 17,000 feet above sea level, so she may have set a drone altitude record. Certainly, the drone enabled her to take some of her dream shots, Kellner says.


Still images from "The Eternal Sky."

The thin air is a challenge for anyone working there. Kellner says that she and her crew spent the first few days of their two-week visit in a state of dizziness. But that giddiness only intensified their sense of being involved in a truly otherworldly experience, she says.

The second installment of “The Eternal Sky” is scheduled for release later this year.