Incredible time lapse: Milky Way over Africa

By Phil Plait | January 18, 2012 4:59 pm

This video is only 20 seconds long, but wow. Simply, wow.

[Note: I’ve noticed sometimes the video won’t load and you get a black space. Try hitting refresh, or just click the link in the next sentence.]

This was created using a series of still images from the International Space Station on December 29, 2011, over the course of about 20 minutes. The ISS was orbiting over Africa at the time, as it passed from the center of the continent to Madagascar and then over the ocean. The flashes of light are from storms on our planet’s surface.

In the sky, though, the Milky Way steals the scene as it rises over the eastern horizon. Toward the end of the video, what I thought for a moment was a reflection of the Milky Way on the glass of the ISS turns out to actually be Comet Lovejoy, which was still visible at the time. You can also see the thin green arc of airglow over the Earth before the rising Sun ends the video.

If it weren’t copyrighted, I would’ve added Enya’s "Storms in Africa" track to this. It seems appropriate.

… and if there’s a metaphor here for overcoming adversity — whatever that may mean to you — well then, feel free to ruminate over it.

Credit: NASA

Related posts:
JAW DROPPING Space Station time lapse!
Time lapse: The spectacle of Comet Lovejoy
INSANELY cool picture of Comet Lovejoy
Time lapse video: ISS cometrise
JAW DROPPING Space Station time lapse!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (9)

  1. Ohio Mike

    Cool about Lovejoy and all, but what are the two moving objects that fly just above the earth’s right side with ~11 sec remaining?

  2. Messier Tidy Upper

    Wow is right. 😀

    Wish it was longer – short but very spectacular.

    So this :

    wasn’t the last Lovejoy time lapse after all! 😉

    I’m glad about that. I hope there’s even more to come, y’never know what folks areworking on.

    If it weren’t copyrighted, I would’ve added Enya’s “Storms in Africa” track to this. It seems appropriate.

    That would be this one :


    This old 80’s classic :

    could be equally appropriate. :-)

    Although of course these songs would have barely started when the clip finishes.

    Relevant trivia fact : Africa has the most lightning of any continent. (Pretty sure that Wikipedia will confirm when that’s back at 4 pm my time / 10.30 pm BA blog time – 24 hrs up.)

    @1. Ohio Mike : Think those were other satellites – looked like they were at about the same altitude. Not sure which ones.

  3. Lee from NC

    That. Was. Beautiful. Seriously, I wish I could live long enough to see humans really going out there and exploring.

  4. AJKamper

    Turns out there actually isn’t a metaphor there for overcoming adversity. I checked.

  5. Dragonchild

    Looks like Druidia.

  6. Wzrd1

    Ohio Mike, I suspect those were other satellites. Without exact direction of camera direction and precise timing of the ISS, one cannot ascertain which ones they were.
    As for the slideshow/video, I’d only love to see gamma and X-ray readings from those storms…
    @Dragonchild, but the air shield code is NOT 1, 2, 3, 4…5. :)
    @AJKamper, perseverance isn’t a metaphor, but a synonym. 😀

  7. mfumbesi

    Way cool. It almost looks manufactured….. Thanks to the ISS guys and the good doctor.


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