Another jaw-dropping time lapse video: Tempest

By Phil Plait | August 23, 2011 2:37 pm

Randy Halverson is a photographer who makes incredibly stunning time lapse videos of the sky. And he’s done it again: "Tempest Milky Way", an aptly-named video showing the serene depths of the night sky as a background for furious activity much closer to home:

[Make sure it’s set to HD, and make it full screen. You’re welcome.]

Holy wow! It’s beautiful enough just showing the stars, but then at 2:20 things really get interesting as storms blow in. There’s lots to see, but keep your eyes open at 1:57 for the silhouette of a whitetail deer on the horizon, and at 3:24 for a meteor that pops into view… and is reflected in the lake!

It’s a breath-taking shot, isn’t it? And it’s a testament to Halverson’s talent, which you can see more of at his website DakotaLapse. I love how the motion of the camera (especially moving up through the corn field) adds a magical sensation to the video. And while time lapse photography like this shows us a dimension we can’t see easily with our own eyes, it’s real nonetheless. Never forget that: the Universe is beautiful, spectacular, and marvelous. Our job is to appreciate it, and try to understand it better.

Credit: Randy Halverson, used by permission.

Related posts:

Gorgeous Milky Way time lapse
Time lapse: Orion
Stunning winter sky time lapse video: Sub Zero


Comments (24)

  1. Chris A.

    Love the frenetic quadruped (deer? elk?) that appears just before 2:00.

  2. That video almost induce stendhal syndrome…

  3. Chris

    This may be a silly question, but how do you know that’s a meteor and not an Iridium flare?

  4. Yousuf

    Is this real or a computerized mashup of different images?

  5. Chris, there was nothing in the frame before or after it. Satellites will show up in more than one frame because they are moving much slower.

  6. Thameron

    Nice film.

    “the Universe is beautiful, spectacular, and marvelous.” Easily said from the scenic heights of Boulder, Colorado Dr. Pangloss. There are plenty of places in that same universe (right here on our little ball of rock in fact) that are hideous, wretched and toxic. The universe as a whole is not one thing or another unless you want to redefine mere existence as beautiful, spectacular, and marvelous which would certainly trivialize those terms.

  7. Austism Alert


  8. Pete

    Very beautiful.
    I love hunting for geosynchronous sats in all these time-lapse vids .

  9. Makes me wish we could slow our own time sense down and speed it up, so we could choose to perceive the Milky Way and these storms’ movement like this all the time.

  10. Glenn

    Gorgeous video, but could someone please convince me that that backdrop behind the time lapse clouds is real? Looks like a telescope image of a galaxy, don’t think that’s possible from a ground level camera.

  11. Messier Tidy Upper

    It’s a breath-taking shot, isn’t it?

    YES! Sure is. :-)

    Superbly, magnificently wonderful. :-)

    The music also really strongly reminds me of something – a TV series or movie – but I’m not quite sure what. Anyone else feel that way or know what it might be from?

    Never forget that: the Universe is beautiful, spectacular, and marvelous. Our job is to appreciate it, and try to understand it better.

    ^ This is the quote of the week, I reckon. Well said & thanks BA. :-)

  12. Buzz Parsec

    Glenn@10, it is a galaxy. Our galaxy, the Milky Way.

    It looks just like many other long exposure (several seconds) photographs of the Milky Way taken through a wide-angle lens, except that it is particularly sharp

  13. Lars Bruchmann

    Glenn@10: he is using very expensive camera equipment. Using wipe open apertures and ‘fast’ lenses one can capture a lot of light. That’s HST’s trick too. It also reveals colour which we cannot see at night.

  14. Jeff

    Messier Tidy Upper: You might be reminded of Hans Zimmer’s portion of the Dark Knight score. This isn’t that music, but it instantly reminded me of it. Listen to track #2 “I’m Not a Hero” for comparison.

  15. Gary Bailey

    I play around with time lapse using a Rebel XTi with a Pcliz attachment… My stuff would be edited out of any of Randy Halverson’s beautiful creations.

    However I have 374 photos taken on August 24 in two and a half hours. When I put them together using Windows Movie Maker there is a stationary object in the the sky. All the other stars and objects pass it by and it stays in the same spot without moving. for the full two and a half hours. What could it be ?

  16. Zeph

    @Gary – maybe a geosynchronous satellite, or a defective pixel in the camera. The latter should be easy to test for. For the former, if you know the direction of the camera perhaps you could see if the geometry makes it feasible; there is satellite aiming software on the web I believe.


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