Temporal Distortion

By Phil Plait | February 14, 2012 9:55 am

Time lapse photographer Randy Halverson of Dakotalapse has done it again: an astonishing and beautiful video called "Temporal Distortion".

Lovely, isn’t it? And the music was specially commissioned to Bear McCreary, who did the music for "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Sarah Conner Chronicles".

I love the meteor at 55 or so seconds into the video that leaves what’s called a persistent train, or a trail that lasts for several minutes. In the time lapse you can see the vapor trail twist and turn as high-altitude winds push on it. I wrote about this before when Randy posted a still picture that eventually wound up in this video, and he graciously acknowledges me on his Vimeo page for the video.

I also noticed a flashing object at 3:38, going right past a bright star (which is Altair, by the way). See it? I think it might be a tumbling satellite, which changes brightness as it orbits end-over-end. It moves pretty slowly, so it must be in a high orbit. Just before that, at 3:25, he has a great view of the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, and you can just see the pink glow of the famous North American Nebula.

This is a great video, and there’s more too: Randy’s made an extended cut which is 23 minutes long! You can buy it on his website. After all, my one complaint about these time lapse videos is they’re never long enough.

Related posts:

A meteor’s lingering tale
Another jaw-dropping time lapse video: Tempest
Gorgeous Milky Way time lapse
The fiery descent of Atlantis… seen from space!
Meteor propter hoc

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (16)

  1. Tim

    wow. i’ve seen many great time lapses before and this is probably my favorite one. the motion of the foreground and background at different speeds is just amazing! i need to fly out to North/South Dakota to see that sky!

  2. Chris Martin

    Makes you realize that that galaxy we call the Milky Way is really out there!

  3. Ann

    Yes, but the question is, do you see Jesus in your burnt toast as well?

  4. David C.

    having lived all my life near sea level, though a good part in the country, it wasn’t until I drove out to Colorado, did I REALLY see the Milky Way, and the stars; thanks for reminding me what I have been missing;

  5. Erm, Phil, it’s not the North American Nebula, it’s called the North America Nebula.
    Beautiful presentation, thanks for sharing it with us!

  6. Captain Disillusion

    At the climax of the music (3:25), when the sky fills the frame, it almost seems like there’s slight parallax happening with some of the stars. Is that because of Earth moving through its orbit? Or is it all in my head?

  7. Fritriac

    My God – it’s full of stars! Just sent it to some guys i know who never look upwards generally… 😉

  8. There’s s cool tumbling satellite at 3:36 too! The shot before that he was almost tracking the stars, nice! This is the shot Capt. D. is referring to. It’s in your head, Capt! But that’s OK, cause you have a brain in that head! Important stuff, that!

  9. Michelle

    Bear McCreary + astronomy time lapse = my face just melted off from happiness.

  10. Wow, I echo Michelle. One thing I noticed that seems to be extremely rare in Northern lights. In addition to the common green and rarer red, there is some blue showing up around 1:54. This is amazing…

  11. Beautiful video. And the commissioning of Bear McCreary was genius. He is one of my favourite composers

  12. Jason Heine

    For an original score, it seems very similar to “Ilia’s Theme” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

  13. Jason Heine

    After listening to this and “Ilia’s Theme” a bunch of times, they don’t sound as similar as they did before. Anyway, very nice work!

  14. Marlene Ansley

    It’s so beautiful, I feel I’m in another state of consciousness! So beautiful, I cry. I feel sorry for people that cannot see the Milky Way and what about children that grow up in cities with so much light pollution, they can’t even see all that beauty! So glad Halverson did this and his other amazingly beautiful videos so that children AND adults that don’t get out much or to places where they can see the sky good, have a chance to see the majesty and wonder of creation! Thanks so much for sharing with mankind. You’re an artist!! I am trying to share this with everyone I can. I’m like an excited child wanting to share what I see with the world!

  15. Clare Krishan

    Perhaps redundant (if already noted at Discover online) if you’ve encountered it elsewhere
    yet neat it kinda helps put it all in perspective – some of what we see in the night sky aren’t actual physical objects any longer (obliterated 1,000s of light years ago but since they were many more light years distant we’re outta sync) they’re just ephemeral messages we are receptive to because we believe our own eyes.


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