The Barbeau Observatory: Where was The Midnight Sky filmed?

Barbeau Observatory
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After watching George Clooney's new science-fiction odyssey, you may be wondering where you can find the cutting-edge Arctic research station pictured in the movie. The Barbeau Observatory doesn't really exist, but set designers did take inspiration from some real-world locations. The Midnight Sky was filmed in Iceland, the Canary Islands (Spain), and in sets built in the Shepperton Studios in the U.K.

Clooney is both the star and director of this ambitious project which unites the outer-space adventure of Gravity with the survival story of The Revenant and the astronomical observatory of the dying world of Io: Last on Earth.

The film is based on the 2016 book Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. The Midnight Sky follows Dr. Augustine Lofthouse trying to make contact with the Aether spacecraft, returning to Earth after a long sidereal journey to Jupiter's (fictional) satellite, K-23, in order to warn it about the global catastrophe that has taken place on the planet.

Barbeau Observatory
According to the monitors shown in the film, the station is situated close to the Barbeau Peak, the highest mountain in the Nunavut region, the most northerly territory of Canada. The Barbeau Observatory pictured in the movie is a CGI creation. Initially we thought that it was inspired by the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, topped with a futuristic version of the Gran Telescopio Canarias in Spain. However, The station is actually based on the Brazilian Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station. Completed in January 2020, the 48,000 sq ft (4,500 m2) modular building houses about 60 people and 17 research labs. The base is located in the 'tail' of Antarctica, in Admiralty Bay (South Shetland Islands).
(You can open all the locations on Google Maps by clicking on the links below in the captions ↴)
Image courtesy of Netflix, Eron Costin - Estúdio 41 and Andrew-Art - Map


Estação Antártica Comandante Ferraz
The two blocks are aerodynamic, helping to reduce the impact of Antarctic winds that can reach up to 125 miles per hour. The base has its own systems for power generation and water treatment (8 wind turbine units and photovoltaic panels), a gym, and a library. This new complex substitutes the old Brazilian permanent station, built in 1984 and partially destroyed by a fire in 2012.
Image courtesy of Eron Costin - Estúdio 41


The Midnight Sky station
The interior scenes were filmed mostly on a soundstage at Shepperton Studios. The production used the same “Stagecraft” technology developed by Industrial Light and Magic for The Mandalorian, to film what you see throughout the Artic station's windows. Instead of the classic green screen, 3D images filmed in Iceland are projected onto ultra-high-resolution LED screens in real-time as a backdrop for the acting.


The Midnight Sky Location
The film crew spent 15 days filming at the massive Skálafellsjökull glacier located in the Vatnajökull National Park in southeast Iceland. This is where they filmed the scene where the families are being evacuated by a drone-esque helicopter. This was the most difficult part of the take. Some sequences were recorded in the middle of a blizzard, with temperatures near 40 below zero.
Image courtesy of Netflix - Map


Cielo de medianoche La Palma drehorte
The scenes with young Augustine (played by Ethan Peck) were filmed at the Astrophysical Observatory Roque de Los Muchachos in La Palma in Canary Islands, Spain. Established in 1985, this large international complex hosts a large collection of telescopes and observatories, including the IACTEC facilities. The weird, unfinished-looking structure that appears in the movie is the new generation Cherenkov Telescope Array, put into service in 2018. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Iris' dream walking on K-23 was also filmed in La Palma. The landscape was heavily CGI'd to create this otherworldly feel, probably using footage filmed in the volcanic scenery on top of Roque de los Muchachos, also featured in The Witcher series.


K-23 planet
Lake Hazen is the world's largest High Arctic lake. It is also situated in the same region in Canada where Barbeau Peak is located. However, the weather station is also fictional.

The Midnight Sky cast is completed by Felicity Jones as Sully, Kyle Chandler as Mitchell, David Oyelowo as Commander Gordon Adewole, Tiffany Boone as Maya, Demián Bichir as Sanchez, and Caoilinn Springall as young Iris.

Can you help to improve this article about the filming locations of The Midnight Sky? To complete and correct this report, any feedback, info, or images that you may have are more than welcome, thank you!

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1 comments
  1. The location of the “barbeau observatory” is actually the new brazilian comandante ferraz antarctic station

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