Australian outback time lapse

By Phil Plait | April 22, 2011 7:00 am

The gorgeous night-sky time lapse animations keep on coming: this one, using images by Colin Legg, shows the sky over the Australian Outback. Make sure you’ve set the HD to on and make it full-screen!

The part with the sky reflected in the water with the island in the background (about one minute in to the video) is breathtaking, and even more so when the Milky Way hovers into view. There is something simply magical (if I may use that word) in these animations, showing the motion of the sky above us. We hardly notice it, but it is compelling and engrossing when seen in this way.

I’ve posted a lot of these videos, and I just found out that a master of them, José Francisco Salgado, will be giving a seminar on them in Chicago on May 14. That should be interesting; I’ve featured his work before (see Related Posts below) and it’s beautiful.

Related posts:

– Salgado #1: Time lapse: The spinning Chilean sky
– Salgado #2: Sidereal Motion
Stunning winter sky timelapse video: Sub Zero
OK, because I like y’all: bonus aurora timelapse video
Amazing wide-angle time lapse night sky video
AWESOME timelapse video: Rapture


Comments (24)

  1. Michael

    About 2 minutes in, on the right hand side, are some delightful flares off geosynchronous satellites. I counted about 8 of them in a few seconds.

    Despite the power of these images in all their raw and eternal beauty and despite this most remote of locations, human impact can be observed. It does not distract – it is a reminder that we strive to be a part of it all and are reaching ever outward.

  2. Man, the Aussies have Tim Minchin, and skies like that…

  3. I was on the Nullarbor Plain last new moon. It’s absolutely amazing to fall asleep to this view above your swag!

  4. Joel

    That’s beautiful. I’ve never seen the Milky Way looking so….galactic. I would love so much to be able to see this on a cinema screen, or even imax…. Wow.

  5. Jim Craig

    Absolutely stunning.

    You always share the best things, Phil. Thanks again.

  6. Trebuchet

    Aaargh! Yet another cool-looking video while I’m stuck in the land of dial-up. I’ve really got to remember to look them all up when I return to Broadband-ville.

    And completely off topic: The BAUT forum has been down for a couple of days now, as has Universe Today. Any idea when they’ll be back?

  7. It has… depth. There was a real 3D quality to it.
    On a technical note, how long would each exposure be and how often would you have to snap to get something like this?

  8. Hove into view. Not “hovers”. Past tense of “heave.” Although, I guess the correct construction should be “…heaves into view.” Unless you really did mean it was hovering.


  9. Daniel J. Andrews

    Nothing wrong with the word “magical”. Just because we understand what is happening doesn’t make it any less magical. I feel the same way when the leaves turn colour in the fall and set the hillsides ablaze with glorious colour.

    I really need to go on a trip down under. Beautiful skies.

  10. Christine P.

    Does anyone know what the two bright lights were at about the 2:50 mark? Bright stars? Planets? Moon? Some combination thereof?

  11. Messier Tidy Upper

    Superluminous reflection star capture. Jaw dropping. The Magellanic clouds so clearly visible too. Just Awesome. I love these clips – thanks BA. ūüėÄ

    Thinking of astronomical time lapses this one :

    is a new favourite of mine I’d like to share. The Journey’ by AggMan UK who has a great series of Youtube videos which I stumbled across the other day. Enjoy! :-)

    PS.I posted this before on another thread but well down the order / late in the night so this is for those who may have missed it that time. I hope this isn’t breeching any netiquette, my apologies & please let me know if so as I do try (not always successfully admittedly!) to do the right thing. :-)

  12. Dean

    @Christine: I was wondering the exact same thing. It’s not the Moon (that looks exactly like the Sun in these long-exposure shots; check the Sidereal Motion video at 1:00 for an example). My guess was Venus and Jupiter, but I never think of them as being *that* much brighter than the stars.

  13. Patricia

    Nothing wrong with ‘magical’. For me the magic lies in this movie’s power to take my breath away.

  14. @2. LarianLeQuella : “Man, the Aussies have Tim Minchin, and skies like that‚Ķ”

    Well, only out in the bush – our cities are pretty light polluted too unfortunately. Then we have suburban streetlights like the one just outside my flipping window. Sigh. :-(

    @3. Andy : “I was on the Nullarbor Plain last new moon. It‚Äôs absolutely amazing to fall asleep to this view above your swag!”

    Seconded by me :-)

    I was doing that just a couple of weeks or so ago – out at Jamestown.

    Best (& darkest natch) skies I’ve ever seen were at a place in the Riverland. (On the Murray river east of Adelaide.)

    @12. Dean Says:

    @Christine: I was wondering the exact same thing. It’s not the Moon (that looks exactly like the Sun in these long-exposure shots; check the Sidereal Motion video at 1:00 for an example). My guess was Venus and Jupiter, but I never think of them as being *that* much brighter than the stars.

    My guess is Jupiter and another planet or two too.

    Venus, brightest and nearest of the planets, reaches magnitude – 4.4 at its peak, Sirius the very brightest star (in apparent mag terms not absolute) is – 1.46 mag. A typical first magnitude (plus not minus one) star is 100 times brighter than a sixth magnitude star and about twice and a half as bright as a second mag star if that helps at all.

    Click on my name above for the wikipage for magnitude (astronomical). :-)

  15. Beau

    I was also wondering what we were looking at between 2:35-2:50. Almost seemed like a double sunset, a la Star Wars.

    Also, I totally love the Southern Sky. I had the chance to bring some binos for stargazing at Ayers Rock last summer, and I was amazed at how “lost” I was. It seemed like a whole new universe to explore… totally exciting!

  16. Melanie (Australia)

    Messier Tidy Up – This is my Murraylands view every clear night!!

  17. Tasos

    Really, really breathtaking. It’s so astonishing to think that we’re on the one edge of the galaxy and we’re viewing it from the side, in all of its glory. Simply amazing.

  18. The scene from 2:08 to 2:39, where the sky is apparently rotating around a point at the top-centre of screen – off to the right of the picture you can see the Southern Cross moving “down” and the Pointers appear “above” them (with the second “Pointer” coming into view at 2:19).

    Those of us in Southern Hemisphere use these stars to locate South, much like using the North Star in the Northern Hemisphere.

    As a kid I learned to draw a line through the major axis of the Southern Cross (which in this video draws a line from right to left), and another line being perpendicular bisector from the Pointers, and where those two imaginary lines meet in the sky was due South.

    I paused the video to do that little experiment and drew those lines and located that imaginary point. Then hit play again. Sure enough, that was the centre of rotation!

    It’s pretty cool on the time lapse video to see it is indeed the point on the southern sky the stars rotate around. I don’t know how precisely it identifies that point, but it would certainly be good enough for navigators of old.

    Indeed it was something that hampered early sea explorers for many years heading to open southern oceans once the North Star went below the horizon as they didn’t have their trusted reference point – until some some bright spark worked out there was a southern equivalent!

  19. Joel

    Just watched it again on a bigger screen and I am still utterly gobsmacked by how beautiful it is.

  20. Dave

    I just found the geosynchronous satellite glints at 2 minutes in, and thought I’d made a great find, only to see that I am not the only one who stares at this over and over with the lights off.

  21. Leo Dargan

    Dear Lady/Sir I was thrilled to bits with your time lapse video of the Australian Outback at night.
    It was great not like my humble efforts Dont laugh when you see it.But I had an idea for a Space video. Its called Emerald Green Sapphire Blue. Its on Youtube under brienodeargain Perhaps
    you might like to collobrate with and produce a better video background to the music . The beginning and the end have real Space sounds .any way I mostly use public domain pictures for
    my projects. Because they are free. I lived in Melborne for a while and boy do I miss it..
    I am an Irishman living in the UK . Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year

    Leo Dargan


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