Time lapse: Epic Skies

By Phil Plait | February 20, 2012 7:00 am

Photographer Tony Rowell sent me a link to a time lapse video he made of the American southwest. It’s all really very pretty, but honestly, the part that got me was the amazing lenticular cloud at the very beginning. You just have to see it to believe it!

Spectacular, no? Lenticular, or lens-shaped, clouds form near mountains, where the rising air condenses to form the clouds, and the wind gives them their shape. I see them commonly here in Boulder, but near sunset the colors are magnificent. Tony really snagged a great shot there, and I love how it looks like a jellyfish hovering in the air.

Finally, right at the end (at the 4 minute mark) he caught a bright fireball over Mt. Whitney that’s just stunning.

It appears over several frames of the time lapse, which isn’t actually possible: meteors move so quickly they come and go in a single frame exposure (or at most just a few, depending on the exposure times)! I asked Tony about it, and he acknowledged that the meteor was slowed down after the fact in the video so you get a better view of it. I expect some people might think this is cheating, but I wouldn’t agree. After all, a time lapse itself might be considered cheating! It’s an artistic representation of reality, and I think it’s OK to let the art triumph, as long as it’s clear that’s the case.

Credit: Tony Rowell, used by permission.


Related posts:

Incredibly, impossibly beautiful time lapse video
Lenticular clouds over the Boulder foothills
Superb time lapse: “My Soul”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures
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