My God, it’s full of star trails

By Phil Plait | October 16, 2012 7:00 am

You know, I was all ready to go to bed, with a blog post all ready to go first thing in the morning… and then astrophotographer Christoph Malin sent me an email about a video he put together. It’s called "The ISS Stacks" – instead of a normal time lapse where you take hundreds of still images and play them as individual frames of a video, he stacked them, so that each one adds to the last. It creates a dizzying, blurred version of reality that’s seriously trippy. See for yourself, but make sure it’s in HD and full screen first for maximum impact.

Whoa. Now I know what David Bowman felt.

Is there anything to be learned from this video? Probably not, to be honest. It’s just way, way cool.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures, Space

Comments (24)

  1. Sarah

    Very, very cool!

    It reminds me of that photographer doing slit-scan photos ( vertical strips, with time as the 2nd dimension: )

    I wish Kubrick could have seen it. At least Trumbull probably will!

  2. thetentman

    Trippy indeed. Thank you Phil.

  3. Chris

    Fun looking for the satellite trails, or maybe alien spaceships in the movie.

  4. Stan9fromouterspace

    Somewhere, Stanley Kubrick is smiling.

  5. Takesi Akamatsu

    Suddenly, the words… “Space, the final frontier…” fill my mind, watching the video… for some odd reason.

  6. Mike

    The concept of art is changing, evolving.

    For the better…

  7. Jim

    Anyone know what software or technique was used to assemble the stills into the stacks?

  8. About the technique used, that question was in my mind too. “Stacking” one image on top of a previous one is normally the same as replacing an earlier image with a later one, because images aren’t transparent. That would look the same as a normal timelapse. This video appears to be adding the bright areas from one image after another. Not sure how you do that. But I like the results!

  9. Frank

    Reminds me of my background by Don Petit!

    There is a lovely freeware program available that allows you to easily produce great startrail images. It’s called StarStax. Try it, it’s a lot of fun!

    Don’t know if it would work on these ISS type of images though.

  10. Dear all, thank you! For the questions about the Stacking Software, just read the Video’s Description at Vimeo.

  11. Matt B.

    2001 is certainly an apt reference, but my first thought at the beginning was, “Hang on, we’re going to lightspeed.”

  12. Steve

    Phil, at about 2:20 mark there’s a puzzling aspect: star trails with a moving Milky Way in the background with NO trails. Any idea why?
    Beautiful in any event!

  13. Zack

    There absolutely is something to be learned from this. It’s a teaching aid to help people visualize 4D space-time.


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