When the Moon hits your apse in a way-cool time lapse

By Phil Plait | February 9, 2012 11:00 am

Photographer Maik Thomas posted this time lapse video on Google+, and it made me chuckle. The bright object is the Moon, and as it sets it turns red, looking like a missile from space curving right into a church.

I love the star trails effect. It’s just a way of adding the individual frames together to show motion, but it does give the video an oddly other-world feel to it. And in this case it really makes the Moon look like some sort of re-entering rocket!

Related posts:

Star Light, People Bright
Alps lapse
The stars above, the luminescence below
The lines in the sky are stars


Comments (16)

  1. Jeff

    perfect, after 30 years, I can now add this video in to my curriculum when I talk about the celestial sphere and focus on the properties of the north celestial pole. You can really see the apparent rotation of the stars around the NCP ; even if this guy is an aussie or whatever , it still would illustrate the SCP, same idea. When I started in 1982, we just had squeaky dirty chalk and had to beg for colored chalk, static, BW transparencies, and our brains, ; and even as a student I only had slide rule. These days, I can daily add these great vids in.

  2. If filmed from the equator, it could go more or less straight down.
    Wish i could think of 25 seconds of soundtrack to go with this.

  3. OMG it hit that church!

  4. Dan I.


  5. Tom

    But was the moon at an apsis when it hit the apse during the time lapse?

  6. DrFlimmer

    When I looked at the houses I figured it looked like a city in the eastern part of Germany – but I wasn’t sure until I saw the title. :) Nice!

  7. Jason A.

    What’s with the color shift in the ‘wake’ of the moon? With green edges even…

  8. Also, it does a brilliant job of debunking the moon-is-bigger-near-the-horizon trope

  9. Jason A.

    #8 Oh, allow me to answer my own question. It’s the ‘leftover’ light from when the Moon was there X frames ago, because the images are averaged to get the trails.

  10. Love your title here BA – it automatically adds music! :-)

    From Moon to meteor in one lapsed trail.. makes it look almost cometary.

    Great short clip – thankyou BA & danke Maik Thomas. :-)

    @7. DrFlimmer : That city always reminds me of the eponymous WWI light cruiser – the only survivor of the first naval battle of the Falklands.(Click my name here for link.) One of my obsessions as a kid. Remarkable heroic captain at the helm too. (/History buff.)

    @9. Dave Brooks : “Also, it does a brilliant job of debunking the moon-is-bigger-near-the-horizon trope.”

    Well noted & spot on. :-)

  11. @2. Stephen : “Wish i could think of 25 seconds of soundtrack to go with this.”

    Thirty seconds isn’t long for music – Bakerman by Midnight Oil might almost fit the bill or some small part of something classical maybe? (Magnificat?) Maybe the intro part after the first 20 secs of Heaven Coming Down by the Tea party (click on my name for that) or a small part – start – of the ‘Bladerunner’ theme? )

    Perhaps the start of ‘The legend Spreads’ from ‘Braveheart’ but even that’s too long for this really plus being very Scottish – nae tha’ thar’s anything wrong with tha* – but it doesn’t quite fit the scene.

    Hmm .. Tough to find something suitable for that length.

    Actually I kinda like that this has no background music to it.


    * Apologies for the dreadful attempt at Scottish speech.

  12. Try Magnificat Arvo Part :


    Or :


    For The legend Spreads

    Or :


    For Bakerman Oils version complete with one of my fave CD covers. :-)

    Alternatively for something more aptly Germanic perhaps a section of one of the Brandenburg concertos such as the one linked to my name here.

    But really, this is so subjective – and so short a temporal span.

  13. … Or maybe a section of Given to Fly if we can have an instrumental version of this :


    somewhere. Or the start of part of Learning to Fly :


    likewise rendered voiceless?

    Off topic – way OT sorry – but thinking aural accompaniments and Eastern Europe saw this :


    earlier today which may be of interest to some. The squeaking sea off Ukraine – remarkable that frozen water can make such sounds. ūüėģ

  14. Wait – I’ve got it! ūüėÄ

    Found the best musical fit yet – the start of ‘ Tonight, Tonight’ by The Smashing Pumpkins. It even has a lunar association with the original music video. Just try listening to that in one window while watching this sinking meteor moon clip in the other. :-)

  15. nomuse

    ..it’s a mare, aye.


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