Time lapse: Close to the Heavens

The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 29 2012 12:15 PM

Time lapse: Close to the Heavens

[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.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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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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