Mesmerizing time lapse of Saturn and Jupiter from spacecraft

By Phil Plait | April 30, 2012 6:29 am

One of the single greatest advantages of the modern age of astronomy, in my opinion, is that digital images from telescopes and spacecraft — and telescopes on spacecraft — have been placed in the hands of everyone. It can take years of training to correctly process and interpret astronomical data, but even without that these images can be put together to make art, scenes of surpassing beauty that professional astronomers might not even think to create.

Dutch video editor Sander van den Berg looked at Cassini and Voyager images, and saw beyond the raw data into the beauty of motion in them. He created a video that is stunning. Stunning. He calls it, simply, "Outer Space".

The events depicted take days, even weeks to play out. Yet somehow, the quick shots and fast cuts — necessary because in many cases there really aren’t very many images to play with — add to the majesty and grandeur of what you see. I suppose that’s no more paradoxical than having canvases far bigger than Earth, yet loaded with detail packed into those vast frameworks.

The Universe is magnificent on every scale, both in space and time. That’s one of the reasons I like working there.

Related Posts:

The stark beauty of Cassini’s Saturn
Video of Cassini’s Hyperion flyby
Cassini takes home video of Saturn’s aurora
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity


Comments (33)

  1. Pete Jackson

    Wow, these are really beautiful. The sequence at 1:19 I’d never seen before and it is fantastic. The ripples of gravity made by a satellite orbiting close to a narrow ring (Saturn’s F-ring?).

    Only complaint is that I would have preferred most of it at half the speed that Sander van den Berg has it. Maybe I’m just showing may age…

    Thanks for posting.

  2. Anthony

    What’s the mechanism behind the opposite rotations of Jupiter’s cloud bands? It’s sort of obvious from the presence of the elliptical storm formations, but it doesn’t appear to be dependent on latitude, I don’t see any pattern there. How/Why is that?

  3. Steve

    After watching that my phone rang and now I only have 7 days to live.

  4. This is absolutely brilliant! Love it. The Universe is indeed magnificent on every scale!

  5. Alex

    What an amazing video. I can’t wait to show the kids. Could you please explain what I’m seeing at 0:47-0:49?

  6. Oh my Darwin, that’s amazing! The waves on the rings and the storms on Jupiter are particularly beautiful. The universe is so badass.

  7. Wzrd1

    @Pete Jackson, I also liked the imagery at 0:49. BOTH are high points of gravitational effects on the rings and quite beautiful!
    Only a few thoughts came to mind after that video.
    First, the immense size of imagery today, due to the large number of pixels in professional telescopes makes for immense amounts of raw data, which one could sit and stare at for weeks, THEN get around to analyzing it… 😉
    Second, how long would Phil remain past the order to return home, if he were in orbit around Saturn? I suspect he, as would I, be tempted to remain there forever, watching the dance of the rings and the planet in general…

  8. mrboma

    Anthony: “What’s the mechanism behind the opposite rotations of Jupiter’s cloud bands? It’s sort of obvious from the presence of the elliptical storm formations, but it doesn’t appear to be dependent on latitude, I don’t see any pattern there. How/Why is that?”

    I don’t think there is opposite movement of the bands (other than the swirling around the storms). I think there is an illusion of opposite movement because the movement is more obvious in some bands than in others. But watch it back frame by frame and you should be able to tell the bands are all moving in the same direction. At least, that’s how it looks to me.

  9. When will we be able to get photos that image the actual particles of the rings? Are they moving too fast for that? Can we get a spacecraft close enough? What’s the closest resolution we’ve gotten so far?

  10. Daniel J. Andrews

    The gravity ripples caught my eye too. Another segment is when the crescent moons ‘occult’ each other starting around 1:30. The larger one, which seems closer, actually passes behind the smaller one, which seems further away. I liked that the perspective just seemed wrong.

  11. I like this one too (I definitely prefer the NIN soundtrack). I saw its debut with the creator present at AAS last year. He then spoke to us a little about why/how he created it:

  12. icewings

    Loved the shadows of the moons dancing on Saturn’s surface. How hard would it be to make a lunar calendar if you lived there?!??

  13. The Bobs

    @2 Anthony, Coriolis force. Earth has bands too, three per hemisphere. Jupiter has a lot more.

  14. Mike

    Is this the Newton’s Cradle I saw on God’s desktop? Amazing work and impages. Thank you.

  15. Andrew

    What causes the countercurrent in the southern hemisphere @1:16?

  16. As a film student, this is my new favorite space video. 0:51-0:57 is my favorite part, as much as any one part is my favorite.

  17. ctj

    i had never seen and never heard of the ring gap (was it cassini?) expanding and contracting. i also loved the image of the shepherd moon closing in on the ring (around :58).

  18. Brian Gonigal

    The part I couldn’t get enough of was the brief clip around 1:20 where the moon literally leaves a gravitational wake in the ring as it goes past, just like the wake a boat leaves in the water behind it.

  19. Cliff

    Great Job Sander!! Just some old B&W data from NASA..WOW. Keep making videos, you have a very good eye.

  20. Kim

    @Keith Wiley, #11 He linked that video as his first related posts. I also prefer that one, although both are genius works.

  21. Ians

    I would just like to congratulate all the engineers and scientists who are able to maintain such exquisite control of such a small craft so far from home, the mere concept of the orbital mechanics involved blows my mind and they make it look routine…. Amazing..

  22. DanO

    WOW… What an amazing era we live in…to see such things …and think .. there is more to come.

  23. Doug Little

    I love stuff like this as it shows in dramatic fashion that great beauty and complexity can come simply from particles obeying the laws of physics.

  24. Brian Too

    @5. Alex,

    At 0:48 it was like that moon splashed or skipped off that ring!

  25. OMFSM! That was freaking awesome!
    Made my day!

  26. Messier Tidy Upper

    Superluminously marvellously splendid. Cheers. Shared. :-)

  27. @Kim. Right you are. I certainly didn’t notice that. Thanks for pointing it out.



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