Time Lapse: The stars, from orbit

By Phil Plait | March 17, 2012 12:58 pm

There have been a lot of time lapse videos made using pictures taken by astronauts on the International Space Station as they orbit the Earth. These all tend to show the lights of cities streaming by, or storms, or the spectacular aurorae that have been shimmering in our skies the past few months.

But what about the stars themselves? Sure, some videos have shown them, but usually the focus is on the planet below, not the skies above. So photographer Alex Rivest took some of the footage, enhanced them somewhat to bring out the stars better, and created this lovely video:

It’s amazing to see the Milky Way in that much detail! In fact, many times there are so many stars it’s hard to identify the part of the sky we’re seeing. The Orion Nebula and Andromeda Galaxy make several appearances, and one thing to you should definitely look out for is the breathtaking Comet Lovejoy and Milky Way tableau at the 3:00 mark. Also, at 2:30 or so, I saw a small light moving horizontally, left-to-right, just above the upper part of the aurora over Earth’s surface. It might be an internal reflection — the astronauts shoot these pictures through glass, and they’re plagued with reflections of things behind them — but it might also be something else in orbit. It’s hard to tell.

Alex has lots of other videos on Vimeo as well that are worth a look-see — I especially liked this one of the Sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge, something I saw many times visiting friends in Berkeley. Gorgeous!

Tip o’ the lens cap to Aliyeza Yavari on Google+.

Related Posts:

Appalachian nocturne: a tour of the eastern US from space
Amazing moonset video taken from space!
Time lapse video: ISS cometrise
An astronaut’s away-from-home movie: Fragile Oasis

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Alex Rivest, ISS, time lapse

Comments (8)

Links to this Post

  1. My God, It’s Full Of Stars | cosmoscon | March 18, 2012
  1. Anne Noise

    The ebb and flow of human lights across the planet set to the constant starscape is breathtaking. Thanks for shaking this, Phil and Aliyeza.

  2. Ray Bellis

    Very nice! On most of the M31 shots you can also make out M33

  3. Chris

    I saw a small light moving horizontally, left-to-right, just above the upper part of the aurora over Earth’s surface…. but it might also be something else in orbit. It’s hard to tell.
    Aliens??? 😛

    Although sadly it’s probably just a simple satellite.

  4. Pete Jackson

    Thanks to you and Aliyeza for bringing us this remarkable video! It must take tremendous expertise and work to bring all this together frpm the originals.

  5. Dave Scruggs

    There is also something moving across the top of the screen at about 2:40. Maybe someone’s Estes Rocket got away.

  6. Clifford

    Strange — on some parts the stars seem to come off the earth. In other places the stars seem to be going in opposite directions to normal direction. Made me wonder if these star images weren’t superimposed from another source. In short, these stars weren’t actually visible from the spacestation.

  7. Mike

    This is an awesome video! Thanks for sharing it.

    @6 Clifford – don’t forget that the orbit of the ISS doesn’t follow the equator. So the Earth spins in different directions relative to the camera, depending on where the station was at the time, and on which way they had the camera pointed. I suspect it’s quite tricky to figure out the maths, though I haven’t tried it yet.

    P.S. Yay for Vimeo! SO much more civilised than YouTube. Phil, please get a Vimeo channel so I can give up Google. Thanks 😐


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