Superb time lapse: "My Soul"

By Phil Plait | January 22, 2012 7:00 am

This is a wonderful, wonderful time lapse video made by Minnesota photographer Mark Ellis put to the music of Peter Mayer.

You absolutely must make sure it’s in HD and make it full screen.

I am a lifelong appreciator of music, both listening to it and making it. As much as I love hearing an artist’s creation, there is an amazing synergy that occurs when we get a visual to go with it. Perhaps that’s why I love movie soundtracks so much; two different senses combined add up synergistically to more than their arithmetic sum. This video and the music exemplify that beautifully.

I am very impressed with the photographic work in this, and that’s not even including the incredibly cold conditions under which a lot of it was made! And as an astronomer I have to add a couple of notes. Pay attention at 4:00; the lyrics to the song say, "… counting galaxies like snowflakes…", and Mark artfully puts in a view of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. I particularly like the shots where foreground trees are in focus while the sky is out of focus; you can really see the colors of Orion’s stars.

Also, in several of the shots, as stars go by I see points of light that are stationary in the sky. I suspect these are geostationary satellites, man-made satellites with orbits 24 hours long. That means they revolve around the Earth at the same rate at which we spin, making them appear to hang motionless (or nearly so) in the sky even as the stars rise and set around them.

You can find out more about the music at Peter Mayer’s website, and more about Mark Ellis’s photography at his site. I hope Mark makes more videos like this. A lot more.

Related posts:

Incredible time lapse: Milky Way over Africa
JAW DROPPING Space Station time lapse!
Another jaw-dropping time lapse video: Tempest
JAW DROPPING Space Station time lapse!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Piece of mind

Comments (17)

  1. William Knowles

    Once again, Bad Astronomy releases me from the everyday pressure and stesses of life. This video lifts my soul in contemplation of the bigness and smallness of the universe. That as small as humans are in the grand scheme of things we are natural poets singing about the wonder of greatness of the place in which we live, this universe.

  2. I am half jealous that these guys have the dark/clear skies to be able to get these shots, the other half is impressed with how much time they put into making these time lapse images. Each scene in the time lapse takes several hours to capture. Great job.

    —- “Also, in several of the shots, as stars go by I see points of light that are stationary in the sky. I suspect these are geostationary satellites, man-made satellites with orbits 24 hours long. ”

    I’m sorry Phil, but I believe, the explanation for those stationary points of light is more mundane….

    Stuck/Hot CCD pixels in his camera. Look at 2:20-2:30 and they are still there when the clouds pass over them.

  3. Rick Johnson

    Beautiful but I must correct the BA.

    Those are not geostationary satellites as they are far from the geostationary belt which is about -6 degrees declination for the middle latitudes of the US. I saw M31 go by two for instance. Another near the double cluster. Another shined through clouds just as strong as when clear.

    Geostationary birds are the bane of astro imagers like me when working on objects in the belt ~ -7 degrees for me at 47N latitude. Dozens will go through such an image in a couple hours time. I’ve not seen any brighter than about 10th magnitude, most much fainter.


  4. Jay Fox

    Wow! I usually don’t embiggenate hd video due to bandwidth shortcomings, but this one was worth the wait. So worth it.

    Yes, each scene takes a lot of time, and a bit of engineering in the ones that involve camera movement as well as time lapse. I, too, am impressed.
    As for the hot pixel issue, give the guy a break, everyone. Those things are the bane of every photographer, astroimager or not. There are methods for dealing with them, but they would add to the already huge amount of time that was needed to produce this. To be honest, if you’re focusing on that, you’re missing the show.

  5. Ganzy

    It’s a shame, this started off really well and then started juddering and stopping and then starting again for me. Even though I let it buffer up to halfway it was still the same, which is unusual becasue I don’t generally have a problem streaming HD video from Vimeo.

  6. Plutino

    All of the time lapse things are ok but it seems like it’s every other post.
    I hope Phil isn’t getting tired of this place, like he did at BAUT

  7. Trebuchet

    @Ganzy: I didn’t even try to watch it on my usual (old) computer because I knew that would happen. On my wife’s new laptop, it’s gorgeous.

    I too was wondering how the BA could be seeing geostationary sats when Polaris was in virtually every shot.

    Now on to the Yosemite one, which I watched earlier on the old computer w/o hi-def or full screen!

  8. Some of the shots do show the celestial equator, like the belt of Orion, for example.

    But yeah, some of the things that look like geosynch sats are too far north. I wonder what they are? Reflections, or something else. I see quite a few, even away from the equator.

  9. Tony Mach

    “I wonder what they are?”

    The “Stuck/Hot CCD pixels in his camera” explanation makes the most sense to me.

  10. Rick Johnson

    They are likely hot pixels in the camera. Not uncommon when pushing the gain which is done to pick up stars. In DSLR lingo that is using a high ISO (fast film in Kodak lingo). This is really a multiplier of the raw electron count of the pixel. This greatly amplifies hot pixels. There are ways to remove these but if the calibration is “old” a new hot pixel or two can creep in.

    I’ve never seen a geostationary bird reach a magnitude bright enough to be picked up this way. Appears the limit of the video is about 4 magnitudes brighter than any geostationary bird that flew through one of my images (6 for most). Not knowing his latitude I can’t determine the exact position of the belt but it would be about where M42 is give or take a degree or so if he is in the 48 states. It’s not uncommon for amateurs to see one drift by the nebula while viewing it.

    Examples of trying to image in the belt.
    Arp 140
    Even worse Arp 292

    Both are 40 minute exposures It’s really “crowded” up there. Fortunately they are usually highly controlled and all moving at the same speed. Atmosphere scintillation causes the trails to squiggle around. Gaps are due to the 8 seconds it takes to download a sub frame. So they mark 8 seconds of the earth’s rotation.


  11. LindaCO

    Love Peter Mayer!! Thanks for sharing these spectacular images.

  12. DaveN

    Transcendant in several ways… In spite of stuck pixels! Good stuff, that, thank you Phil!!

    I notice that the source page (link via your “incredibly cold” text above, or via the title within the frame) provides an option to play via html5 instead of flash… FWIW, for me the html5 played more smoothly (I allowed both to load to the end before playing).

  13. snarl

    I liked quite a bit of this video, but especially the ‘bokeh’ stars at 1′ and 2′ in! The moon moving along behind the tops of leafless trees was also well done.

  14. Calli Arcale

    So beautiful — and so home! It’s nice to see the beauty of Minnesota celebrated in a time lapse. Though it’s awfully light-polluted here in the Twin Cities, if you get up north there are some nice dark areas.

  15. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great time lapse. Cheers BA & Mark Ellis. :-)

  16. David Fried

    Very moving, and in a way, if someone asked me what it is about astronomy that I really enjoy and find meaningful, at the level of feelings rather than science, I would just show them this video. Thanks so much for posting this, Phil.


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