Wyoming skies

By Phil Plait | August 29, 2011 9:27 am

If you need a pick-me-up to start your week (after a hurricane, a series of earthquakes, and just having to face another danged week at work) then may I suggest this amazing time-lapse video by Eric Hines, called "Wild Wyoming":

[Make sure it’s set to HD, and make it full screen. I personally think the music is very good, too (it’s from "The Fountain"), so you might want to crank up the speakers as well.]

Isn’t that breath-taking? At about a minute in I saw a couple of satellites heading across the Milky Way right-to-left, and of course the airplanes zipping through are pretty obvious (from the direction they’re moving, I’d guess most are coming from or heading to my home base of Denver airport). At 2:20 there is an eerie scene of what looks like light pillars to me; vertical glowing columns caused by flat, hexagonal ice crystals in the air bending reflecting the light from sources beneath them. I’m a bit surprised they would appear in the summer, but some locations in eastern Wyoming/western Nebraska can get plenty cold at night. [UPDATE: I was wrong, those are simply lens flares, which makes a lot more sense to me. I asked Eric Hines about it and he replied on his Google+ post. Thanks to Neil Creek in the comments for pointing this out.]

Also, at 2:50, there’s a scene that better be familiar to anyone who reads this blog!

I’ve been to southern Wyoming (it’s not far from Boulder) and the geology there is very cool. Someday I’ll have to go fossil hunting up there. And maybe do a little star gazing too. Clearly, the skies there are magnificent.

Image credit: screen grab from Eric Hines’ video. Tip o’ the lens cap to Randy Halverson.

Related posts:

Another jaw-dropping time lapse video: Tempest
Time lapse: Journey Through Canyons
Down under Milky Way time lapse
Alps lapse

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (22)

  1. Amazing. Reminds me of the time-lapse video they created in the “Red Dead Redemption” game last year (similar landscapes), though this one above is obviously much more awe-inspiring.


  2. Phil, I suspect those pillars in the frame you show are actually just lens flares. When a bright light source is just out of frame, they can cause a linear flare like what you see here.

    Here’s an example of mine, with a flash pointing back at the camera just out of frame: http://neilcreek.smugmug.com/Costuming/Valentine-Kaalli-Jess-Rachel/11099595_Kzh7FS#778136311_F5RbK

    Stunning video. Makes me want to turn my night sky photography into night sky time lapse :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. Leigh Johnson

    Beautiful! I noticed in several of the night sky scenes some objects that appear stationary while the stars move past. Assuming they are not video artifacts, is it possible that they are geostationary satellites?

  4. Timmy

    But, what does it mean?!!?!

  5. Neil Creek (3): That’s possible, and I chewed over that idea. Eric didn’t mention it in his show notes, so I’ll drop him a line and see. :)

  6. Conrad Morgan

    Nice! I’m also curious about the nature of those stationary points as Leigh pointed out. Would be really cool if they actually were geosynchronous satellites.

  7. Christine P.

    I’m more puzzled by the point around 1:50 where several of the brighter stars seem to flare or flicker as though varying in brightness quite a bit. Maybe a changed exposure time, or dimming from the few clouds skittering through? I didn’t notice a similar effect anywhere else in the video.

    I also thought the light pillars were likely to be just lens flares. There are a couple of other flare-like spots further up in the frame.

  8. Also, at 2:50, there’s a scene that better be familiar to anyone who reads this blog!

    Mmm… Mashed potatoes!

  9. Just curious… How long of an exposure do you need to get the milky way to show up so nicely?

    As for the stationary objects, can someone point to a time in the video that shows them?

  10. Joel

    I’d love to know specifically where these kinds of shots and views are. I’d take a vacation out that way.

  11. Noel

    I saw light pillars in Ottawa last winter. It was pretty cool.

  12. WJM

    It’s pretty and all… but I’m starting to find a certain sameness about these timelapsy thingies. Where are the cities and industries in addition to the pretty rusticism? And why isn’t My Bloody Valentine in the soundtrack?

  13. Ken B (10) I took this shot about a month ago. The settings were 30sec f2.8 ISO2500, 24mm


  14. Neil Creek: looks like you were right! I updated the post. Thanks for the comment!

  15. Tom K

    Phil, have you ever seen the film “Chronos”, by Ron Fricke? It is virtually all time lapse done with an IMAX camera, and while there’s little of an astronomical nature in it, it’s quite moving – particularly when actually seen on an IMAX screen. Unfortunately it’s been out of circulation for many years and while it’s available on Blu-ray, that’s a pale imitation of the impact of a true IMAX.

    I highly recommend it.

  16. Jeanette

    Spectacular scenery.
    I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for all you Northerners to have our Galactic Centre so low on the horizon.

  17. Marc Peters

    WOW ! Fantastic !
    We have lots and lots of beautiful countryside in the UK
    but nothing to match the splendour of Wyoming Skies.

    There is a Mantovani track called “Wyoming” that would
    fit very well with its scenic beauty.

    Thank you, Eric.

    Buckingham UK

  18. Eric Taylor

    You are welcome sir Marc. LOL. See the US isn’t all that bad.



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