Gorgeous nightscape timelapse

By Phil Plait | April 20, 2010 1:12 pm

Tom Lowe has done it again: another jaw-dropping astronomy timelapse.

Timescapes: “Death is the Road to Awe” from Tom Lowe @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

Wow, that’s simply stunning. The music is beautiful and driving, too; it’s from "The Fountain", a movie I quite enjoyed.

My favorite was the cactus with the Pleiades, Orion, and Sirius behind it. But the whole thing is devastatingly beautiful. You should watch the other short films he’s made, too!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff
MORE ABOUT: Timescapes, Tom Loew

Comments (33)

  1. Jan

    Hey Phil and friends… in case the music intrigues, here is a link to the entire piece of Youtube which has embedded links to itunes or Amazonmp3store so you can buy the track yourself. It’s about 9 minutes, so you can stick it behind today’s glorious shuttle landing for an added nerdy thrill. Weren’t our space girls awesome! Thanks Phil. We love you! –Jan

  2. Al G.

    It’s amazing how the spell can be broken so easily by sticking a person dancing into the middle of it.

  3. Mr. Owl

    Yeah, what Al G. said.

    I wish it had time-lapsed for a longer period of time, but I loved the music!

  4. Gary Ansorge

    3. Al G.

    So I guess you’ve never danced in ecstasy? You don’t know what you’ve missed.

    Great imagery.

    Tanks Phil.

    GAry 7

  5. XMark

    I love how the rotation of the Earth becomes a noticeable thing when you see a night time lapse video.

  6. So amazing!!! Gorgeous clip :-)

    Thanks Phil for sharing this

  7. Frank

    Really nice, but a quick question.
    Why is the point of view ( camera) moving in relation to the ground?
    I’ve seen quite a few timelapses, but not any that had the camera’s on moving platforms during the timelapse.

  8. matt b

    As you mentioned, up until recently the majority of timelapse footage was shot with a locked off camera.
    However Tom is using a small motion-control (computer driven) dolly system where the actual speed of the dolly appears incredibly slow if you were to watch it in operation. (eg. a 10 sec. timelapse dolly shot may take several hours to shoot.)

    As he is shooting in timelapse mode, the movement is time-compensated and the final shot looks like a regular dolly move but with the scene action sped up as programmed.

  9. RawheaD

    He did a great job, but the cinematography is a blatant ripoff of… er, homage to director Ron Fricke.

    For those of you who thought this was great, I highly highly highly recommend the movie BARAKA. You will be blown away to smithereens.

  10. Charon

    You liked The Fountain? Seriously? A “let’s float off through space in the lotus position – a reference to Eastern religions, so we must be deep! – into a supernova, with special effects that remind me of nothing so much as the cheesy, cheap, early 1980s, spiraling clouds that the Grim Reaper leads the dinner party into at the end of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” movie?

    And it didn’t bother you at all that the “Xibalba Nebula”, which figures so prominently in the movie, is the Orion Nebula? Considering that, you know, they show as being gold and claim that it contains a dying star? Which, despite apparently being an isolated low-mass star creating a planetary nebula, ends up going supernova?


    On the other hand, Jackman and Weisz were both very good. And the modern Earth sequences were well done.

  11. DownHouse

    This is incredible. All of these shots are beautifully composed.

    @#5 I’ve never danced in ecstasy either. I’ve danced ON ecstasy…but that’s something else entirely :)

  12. Plutonium being from Pluto
  13. Martin Moran

    Loved “The Fountain” thought it was beautiful and awe-inspiring.

    I also thought the special effects were interesting because they were made without CG mainly from macro photography with chemical reactions in a Petri dish! Watch “The Future” in the extras section.

  14. Sauss

    -Yeah The Fountain was flaky, but I really liked it. I thought the segment in the special features that shows how Hugh Jackman’s character in the bubble creates food could be one of the best short films ev-er.
    -Al G: so true.
    -Phil: love the Pleiades, down here in the land of the Southern Cross they call it ‘Matariki’ and its appearance marks the beginning of the Maori New Year.

  15. csrster

    I’m also a bit ambivalent about the dancer. It seemed like an artificial (and cliched) attempt to raise the spirituality content of the video, as if the film-maker didn’t really have enough confidence in the power of his primary material.

  16. stompsfrogs

    Reminds me of the playstation network game “Flower.” Probably because of the windmills.

    You would like it, Phil. You a gamer?

  17. Gary Ansorge

    13. DownHouse


    17. csrster

    Spirituality is just another way of saying “Feeling good was good enough for me and Bobby McGee” (Thank you Janis).

    Who says rationalists don’t have poetry in their souls(hearts, minds, whatever)?

    Looking forward to more like these.

    GAry 7

  18. Mena

    I didn’t mind the dancer but there was a tree in motion (and only the tree) in the landscape during the first 15 seconds or so. I still can’t figure out what was going on there and now am wondering where it was off to.

  19. I loved the Fountain. “Finish it”.

  20. 10. RawheaD Says: ” He did a great job, but the cinematography is a blatant ripoff of… er, homage to director Ron Fricke.”

    If you’re referring to “Koyaanisqatsi,” the director was Godfrey Reggio. Fricke was the cinematographer.

    – Jack

  21. Bruce

    Where in the southwest, ( I presume ) are those incredibly twisty turny striated rocks?

  22. Martin Moran

    In reference to 12. Charon, my brother who is a big movie buff had to concede that it did not contain the gritty realism of “True Lies”

  23. amal

    Hey, please give me a link to this music on itunes. Amazing video. Thanks.


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