I see the sky move under my feet

By Phil Plait | May 30, 2011 10:00 am

[UPDATE: Just FYI, I changed the links below to a new version of the video with better audio.]

My love of time lapse night sky shots is on record (see Related Posts below), and I was all set to point you to this simply stunning video that’s been making the web rounds the past couple of days, showing the sky circling above the Very Large Telescope observatory in Chile…

… but then I found out that Youtube user bulletpeople took that video and manipulated it a little. He changed the point of view a teensy bit, just a scosh, so that instead of the sky moving around us in a geocentric fashion, the Earth rotates under the sky:

[Set the resolution to 720p and make it full screen for the best effect.]

How cool is that? I won’t say this frame of reference is more real than our usual everyday geocentric one*, because no frame is more real than any other. But it does give you a little bit of cosmic perspective, doesn’t it?

Don’t ever forget: we live on a tilted spinning ball revolving around a star that’s orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy that’s on the outskirts of the Virgo galaxy cluster that’s part of the Local Supercluster that’s in an expanding Universe that not only gets bigger every second but gets bigger faster every second.

That’s a lot to handle, I know… but it’s real, and it’s true, and it’s awesome.

Tip o’ the lens cap to PopSci for the original video, and Scottie Davis for the edited one. Original video credit: Stéphane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado/ESO.

* Not to be confused with a capital-G Geocentric one.

Related posts:

Incredibly, impossibly beautiful time lapse video
Australian Outback time lapse
Dust, from the desert below to the galaxy above
Stunning winter sky timelapse video: Sub Zero
OK, because I like y’all: bonus aurora timelapse video
Sidereal Motion
Amazing wide-angle time lapse night sky video
AWESOME timelapse video: Rapture

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Piece of mind, Science
MORE ABOUT: geocentrism, time lapse, VLT

Comments (23)

  1. Bob Strause

    I agree – so cool I got frostbite!

    Have to admit that I had a lot of trouble accepting Dark Energy, but with recent observations and reading “The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality” by Richard Panek – I’ve been convinced – I’d recommend that book to anyone interested in learning the history of the quest.

  2. Brian

    Now I want to see a single-shot all-night video like that.

  3. Mr. D

    Wow! That is incredible. Such a simple idea really but it’s very powerful. It’s so hard to think in terms of the Earth rotating when you’re standing on it. But this really puts it in perspective.

  4. Pete Jackson

    And if we set the frame rate at once every 1000 years, we’d see the stars streaming by while the galaxies were essentially stationary!

  5. “I agree – so cool I got frostbite!”

    Hahaha, that’s awesome. I’m going to steal that.

    That video was great! People are so clever.

  6. Grizzly

    “Whenever life get you down, Mrs. Brown, and things seem hard or tough,
    And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft, and you feel that you’ve had quite enough…

    Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
    And revolving at 900 miles an hour…”

    And at this point the Bad Astronomer will drop in with an “actually more like 1040…”

    But never mind that, everyone, SING!!!

  7. Thameron

    “but it’s real, and it’s true, and it’s awesome.” Real and true certainly. The evidence supports those assertions. ‘Awesome’ though is just your subjective opinion. You could just as easily say that the fact that our universe will inevitably end in a thin, dark haze barely above absolute zero sucks.

  8. Nangleator

    I see some distortion in the sky. Am I seeing refraction from Earth’s atmosphere?

  9. I have been doing that (manually) when I watch these. I cock my head and shift my body to try to match the rotation to get a sense of the true movement.

    It’s true it doesn’t matter how you view it, but if you’re seeing something that is a billion light-years away rise in the east and setting in the west and showing up in the east again 24 hours after it last appeared there…how fast would it need to be going… I guess that’s pretty easy to figure out actually C=τr, C=6.28ly, 6.28ly/24hr=5.53754683×1015 mph.

  10. Daniel Schealler




    Yes, calm down, that was intended as a sarcastic parody.

    Seriously now: That’s an awesome switch in perspective. Very cool.

  11. Messier Tidy Upper

    But it does give you a little bit of cosmic perspective, doesn’t it?

    Yes. Sure does. :-)

    How cool is that?

    Very. 8)

    Oh, were those rhetorical questions were they? 😉

  12. Messier Tidy Upper

    @6. Grizzly : Actually, this song courtesy of the Beatles :


    seems an even better match albeit somewhat older match for the clip. The person who created this was no fool mind you! 😉

  13. Messier Tidy Upper

    @4. Pete Jackson Says: “And if we set the frame rate at once every 1000 years, we’d see the stars streaming by while the galaxies were essentially stationary!”

    Now there’s a long term project to work on with your kids – & grandkids & *their* grandkids & their great-great-grandkids, et cetera! 😉

    That would be an awesome thing to see though – good idea if somewhat impractical. :-)

  14. charter40

    [Set the resolution to 720p and make it full screen for the best effect.]Don

  15. This video is not available anymore. Do you know where can I see it? Or maybe do you have contact to it’s authors?

  16. Minos

    @#20 Marcin:
    The version with bad audio is still up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1O66XsbrOA&feature=player_embedded

    It’s from the same user account, no less. Odd they missed it with the takedown notice.


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