Astonishing all-sky aurora time lapse video

By Phil Plait | October 15, 2012 7:00 am

I have got to get to Yellowknife, in Canada. They seem to get spectacular aurorae all the time there!

A few days ago I posted an aurora picture taken by St√©phane Guisard. Well, in October he was up in Yellowknife, and using a special camera he took an all-night all-sky time lapse video of the aurorae as it flickered and snapped across the sky. It’s magical:

Holy wow. Seriously, make this full screen. The slowly-moving stars of the Big Dipper and other constellations take a back seat (nearly literally) to the eerie green and red glowing ribbons created when the Earth’s magnetic field fires subatomic particles down into our atmosphere. Of course, when the three-week-old Moon rises, it dominates the scene, but not for long. The aurorae draw the eye, and it’s impossible to look away. Even the towering Milky Way wheeling around the sky couldn’t distract me from the lights for long.

I also love how the clouds stream in, and it gets a bit confusing distinguishing them from the aurorae. And finally, as the video draws to a close you can see Venus hanging just behind the sickle of Leo’s head, a sure sign the Sun won’t be long to rise. And on cue it does, lighting the sky and washing away the glory of the magnetic storm going on overhead.

Stéphane has more aurora shots on his site, and tons more amazing sky images, too. Go see.

Related Posts:

Up, up, and aurora!
Time lapse: Within Two Worlds
Lapland lights
Surreal Arctic time lapse

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (8)

  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great clip. Cheers! :-)

    Like the whole crystalline sphere of Earth’s sky has turned into a magnetically lit eerie porthole filled with dancing plasma. :-)

    Off topic sorry, but amazed I haven’t yet heard your take on this feat :

    BA! You must of heard about Felix’es happy leap already surely? :-)

  2. Chris

    Weird, my brain seems to interpret it inverted. The center is closer and the edges are far away.

  3. Jon Hanford

    Fantastic work!

    I’ve been a long-time fan of Stephane’s deep-sky work, such as this 1200-image mosaic of the Sag-Sco region:

    Definitely check out his website for a wide range of astronomical images:

  4. It looks like there’s also a 22 degree halo around the sun at the very end.

  5. Thank you for your nice comments.

    Chris : same as you, the view seems to be curved downwards …. not sure if somebody sees it the other way ?

    Jon : thank you very much, I did not know I had “fans” of my work, I am most honored !

    Jonathan : yes it does look like it, I was not sure if it was not some reflection inside the lens at some angle. BTW, it is the Moon we see there, not the Sun ūüėČ


  6. Doh! I don’t know why I thought it was the sun, of course – in which case you have a lunar halo there :-) Normally a reflection from the lens would cause reflections across the field of view, rather than around the light source itself.


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