Tag: time lapse

Time lapse: Helvetia’s Dream

By Phil Plait | November 6, 2012 2:19 pm

Oh my, another lovely night sky (and landscape!) time lapse video; this time from Alessandro Della Bella, and called Helvetia’s Dream:

[Make sure you set it to hi-def and make it full screen.]

I love the opening shot! Unless it was just digitally zoomed, it must have taken some planning; you have to know just where the Moon is going to rise to catch it that accurately.

A couple of other things to watch for, too:

At about 45 seconds in, a bright meteor leaves a long persistent train, a glowing trail that gets blown away by the thin but rapid winds 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. I actually gasped when I saw that!

At 1:30 you see the stars of Orion setting behind the Matterhorn, zoomed in. The big bright pink blob is the famed Orion Nebula, but just above it is the star Alnitak with a bit of nebulosity around it; the bright patch is the Flame nebula, and barely visible is the much fainter but iconic Horsehead Nebula.

I also love how the clouds – more like fog – flow through the valley. The study of how things flow is called hydrodynamics, and physicists use the word "fluid" to describe the stuff that’s flowing. In common vernacular that means liquid ("Have you been drinking enough fluids?") but in science air is a fluid. So is the thin gas in a nebula, since it can carry sound waves and be shaped by supersonic flow.

Whenever a doctor asks me if I’ve been taking my fluids, I always want to respond, "WHAT? And ionize my cardiovascular system?!"

I’ve never had the guts.

Anyway, one more thing: the Moon setting at the end is actually not full! The long exposure times makes it look that way, but when it nears the horizon you can see it’s really a thin crescent, but the dark part of the Moon is being illuminated by Earthshine: light from the Earth itself softly illuminating the nighttime moonscape, which is then reflected back to us.

There’s poetry in the heavens, if you know where to look.

Tip o’ the lens cap to MichaelPeterson on Twitter.

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The twice reflected Moon light
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Time lapse: Close to the Heavens

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

Time lapse: Close to the Heavens

By Phil Plait | October 29, 2012 12:15 pm

[Personal note: With a hurricane bearing down on the US, I dithered over posting this now… but maybe some of you good folks could use more Moments of Calm.]

Astronomy PhD student Péter Pápics sent me a note about a time lapse video he made at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma in the Canary Islands. I’ve been to this observatory, attending a meeting there many years ago. It’s a place of incredible beauty, so I was eager to see his video, and when I watched it I was thrilled to see it was even better than I hoped. Here is Mercator: Close to the Heavens. Make sure you set it to hi-def and full screen.

Many time lapse videos now use a small motor-driven rig to move the camera very slowly as it takes the pictures, but that limits how long a sequence you can shoot. Péter made two choices here: to use a steady tripod which allows longer shots, and to pick a frame rate that accentuates the magnificent grace of the motion depicted. The clouds flow like oceans, and the stars move serenely. His choice of Moonlight Sonata works well here, especially since the sequences are shown in time order, with the setting Sun leading to a night of observations at this important and heavily-used astronomical site.

I’ll have to bookmark this video; when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed with the need to save the world, this will help me remember what it is we’re trying to save.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

While the Sun Was Sleeping

By Phil Plait | October 18, 2012 11:00 am

Three years in the making, this amazing time lapse video of the night sky is by Jeffrey Sullivan, and is really, really beautiful. It’s called While the Sun Was Sleeping. Make sure you set it to HD and make it full screen.

The song (which I really like) is called "While You Were Sleeping" by Life Audience.

If some of the footage seems familiar, it may be because I’ve featured some of it on this blog before, like the Perseid meteor shower, and the setting lunar eclipse behind the tower (which is frakkin’ incredible).

It’s videos like this why I follow so many photographers and astrophotographers on Google+. It’s a haven for amazing imagery.

Related Posts featuring Jeffrey’s work:

Ridiculously awesome photo and time lapse of a stormcloud at twilight (MUST SEE!)
Lunar eclipse time lapse
Perseids, writ large

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

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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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 Stéphane 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.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Time lapse: Very Little Stars

By Phil Plait | October 5, 2012 7:00 am

I don’t know about you, but after this week I could use a nice time lapse video right about now. So soak up Very Little Stars, made by Ben Wiggins. It starts off like most do, showing beautiful nature scenery and using a slowly moving rig to change the perspective; I love that sort of thing because it adds a sense of drama and unearthliness I find very compelling.

But you’ll get a hint of more at about 55 seconds in, when he shows a "tilt shift" scene, using focus to make normal-sized objects look tiny. But then at a minute twenty, things get very interesting indeed.

That is so cool! That train shot, and then the city, were clearly taken from a moving car using a slow frame rate. The sense of inertia, speed, while still depicting slow motion is enthralling. The music helps, too. The technical difference between this and other time lapse videos isn’t huge, but it really affects the feel and impact of the resulting photography.

Tip o’ the lens cap to It’s Okay To be Smart, a blog you should be reading.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Ben Wiggins, time lapse

Time lapse: stunning Australian skies over a pathfinding array

By Phil Plait | October 3, 2012 9:58 am

In the Australian Outback, hundreds of kilometers from the noise and lights of any city, stand three dozen radio telescopes, each a dozen meters across. Working as a single unit, they patrol the skies looking at cosmic objects emitting low-energy light.

Photographer Alex Cherney visited this remote observatory and created a really lovely time lapse video of the telescopes at work:

[The video is also available on YouTube.]

The telescopes taken together are called the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP. The Square Kilometer Array is a project currently underway in Australia and South Africa to create the largest radio telescope in the world. ASKAP is a testbed for SKA, used to check out various technology and techniques that SKA will employ. But ASKAP is a full-fledged observatory in its own right, and will add to our arsenal of instruments peering into deep space.

The video is beautiful, and as always when I watch these from Australia, I’m overwhelmed by the southern skies. The stars are different than the ones we see up here, but it’s not just that. What always gets me is how, from my own experience, the motion is backwards! When I want to see Orion from my home I face south; it rises on my left, moving to the upper right. But in Oz, it rises on the right and moves to the left! Things are flipped when you’re upside-down relative to what you’re used to… and that’s driven home by seeing Orion standing on his head!

And the Milky Way. Wow. The center of our spiral galaxy never gets very high from Boulder, but in Australia it passes well overhead, freed from the haze and murk of the horizon. Blazing gloriously, in it you can pick out nebulae, dust clouds, and more as you gaze over tens of thousands of light years of interstellar space. Alpha and Beta Centauri, the Coal Sack, the Large Magellanic Cloud… all of these are easy to spot to the trained eye.

Every time I’m at a dark site and I look out into the sky, I soak up its beauty and am awed by it. But more than that, I know what I’m looking at. Knowledge adds another dimension to what you see, a profound sense of connection and understanding that warms the brain and the heart.

Learn everything you can. Not just about astronomy, but everything. Don’t be afraid of knowledge; revel in it. Far from taking away any beauty or art from the world, it makes life richer, and far, far more wonderful.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: ASKAP, Australia, SKA, time lapse

Time lapse: All Is Violent, All Is Bright

By Phil Plait | September 30, 2012 7:09 am

For this, the last day of the US Fiscal Year, here’s a lovely time lapse video from Tadas Janušonis, a photographer in Lithuania. It’s called "All is Violent, All is Bright", and features a series of interesting optical phenomena in the sky.

Did you catch everything? There were noctilucent clouds, halos, moondogs, and a brief lunar corona.

But my favorite is the phenomenal oncoming storm starting three minutes in.

That, or the giant spider (at 2:40) clearly bent on destroying the world. I’m partial to stuff like that.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff

Emerald Isle time lapse

By Phil Plait | September 18, 2012 10:53 am

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a beautiful time lapse video, so here’s one that should do the trick: "Between the Raindrops", by Peter Cox. It shows some inclement weather in Ireland, but ends with a lovely astronomical sight: a lunar eclipse setting over some hills. Make sure to set it to be full screen!

I guess this means Ireland is on my list of Places I Must See now, too. That list is getting mighty long.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Ireland, time lapse

Home, from space: Earth Illuminated

By Phil Plait | August 10, 2012 12:30 pm

I’ve been posting a lot about Mars lately – and stay tuned, there’s plenty more! – but let’s not forget the first planet we ever viewed from space: our own. Here’s another lovely time lapse video of Earth made from images taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, called Earth Illuminated.

Regular readers might recognize some of the clips used here; for example the opening shot shows the solstice Sun not quite setting over the limb of the Earth. Many of the other features you can see in this video I’ve explained before too, like air glow, aurorae, and cities from space. Still, it’s nice to see them again, some literally in a different light.

Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to Dan Gillmor on G+.

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