Innsbruck by night time lapse

By Phil Plait | July 8, 2012 7:01 am

Photographer Christoph Malin — part of The World At Night, which is making people aware of the beauty of the night sky — spent eight months in Innsbruck, Austria, taking 35,000 photographs of the sky over the city. What he created with them is a lovely and wonderful time lapse video:

The most interesting part of this to me is that the stars are so crisp and obvious even with the city lights below. The skies there in the Alps must be very clear, or else the light pollution from the city would make the sky glow, washing out the stars (of course, the longer exposures needed to see the stars in these photos also makes the city lights look brighter than they are). It’s nice to see those stars shining in the video, and honestly makes me think a trip to Innsbruck wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (13)

  1. Sarah

    Well then the tourism board’s done it’s job. Beautiful video. What’s not to like about clouds, stars, and man-made starscapes, cities at night…

    Did you catch the tight-rope walker at 1:00 ? Between two buildings, at night!

  2. Benjamin

    Interesting trivia: Max Valier, a rocketry pioneer of the early 20th century, was born in a town close by, Bozen (now part of Italy).

  3. Tehanu

    Too bad they didn’t use the classic song “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen” instead of the usual Eurosoft jazz — unless that WAS the song disguised with a technobeat to the point of being unidentifiable. Also, you kids get off my lawn.

  4. The lunar eclipse was awesome! It’s right after the tightrope walker.

  5. Argosian

    Beautiful work. I particularly like the symbolism (whether intentional or accidental) of the alignment of the Milky Way with the busy street around 2:36-2:40. The night-time tight-rope act in the lower left corner at ~0:52-0:58 was interesting.

    The two large, diverging objects in the upper left quadrant around 2:09-2:12 appear to be moving a different rates than either the background stars or clouds (on my small laptop monitor and with my myopic eyes, at any rate) Lens flare or other imaging artifact? Or am I perceiving the relative motions incorrectly?

    Could have easily done without the soundtrack.

  6. FMCH

    Was that Andromeda about the 2:10 mark?

  7. James Evans

    And to think I had a near numinously transformative Alps experience having a couple of witbiers in an outside cafe near Neuschwanstein… I’d probably never come back home if I visited Innsbruck.

  8. That’s wicked cool. I especially like the way you can see the fluidity of the clouds as they stream through.

  9. Greg

    There is a river-of-clouds at 3:35, it looks really nice.

  10. Arthur Maruyama

    @ Argosian and FMCH:

    The odd objects at around 2:10 which do not move with the stars appear to be a lens flare (the oblong) in combination with an internal reflection (the disk), both probably due to the Moon out of the picture to the left.

    @ Catalyst:

    Nice catch on the lunar eclipse! I saw it but I thought the dimming was due to the Moon setting in combination with the clouds interfering.

  11. Georg

    Douglas Adams
    was “inspired” by the stars of Innsbruck laying
    in a meadow at night there, some intoxicating
    liquor drinks maybe played a role too….

  12. Dear all,

    thanks for your kind remarks.

    Victor Franz Hess, who discovered cosmic rays, actually studied them high above Innsbruck at his cosmic ray observatory ( at the 2450 m high Innsbruck Hafelekar mountain, which is part of the Karwendel Mountain Range, that hosts the “Alpenpark Karwendel”, a bit similar to a State National Park.

    Actually at the Intro Sequence (around 00:22) I was just about 600 vertical meters below Hess’ observatory, and at the end sequence around 03:30, the observatory is just right of the upper mountain light (Hafelekar Cable Car Mountain Station) in the middle of the images.

    The odd object at 02:10 are lens flares, and I hope you noted the Mountain Goat appearing at the most upper right hand side of the images, during that sequence. While capturing images, I could hear the goat, but couldn’t recognize it.

    Some other objects to be seen during the film: There are Milky Way, Orion, the Plejades, Meteors, Andromeda, Satellite Flashes, Traffic Streams in the Valleys, traditional Mountainfires at Summer Solstice, Earth Hour Party at Innsbruck’s Golden Rooftop (00:58), a Meteor Persistent Train (around 03:11) as well as many Aeroplanes on their way over the Alps.

    At 03:37 you see the Brenner Autobahn (, as well as in 02:45 (filmed from the 2400 m high Patscherkofel Mountain above Innsbruck, together with a Thunderstorm on the horizon), or at 02:25 the same scene from the same mountain with the very bad light pollution (yellow band) provided by Northern Italy (not filtered by cloud layers).

    Regarding the scene with Innsbruck and the Milky Way at around 02:55… I once heard from a renown Astronomer that the other City in the world of about the same size that provides a similar quality of the MW during nights with clear skies is: Tucson, Arizona 😉

    Either way, let’s do our best to preserve the Night Skies the best we can.

    all the best
    Christoph Malin


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