“Time-Lapse | Earth” Shows Our Gorgeous Planet From Above

The entire universe in blog form
May 6 2013 12:02 PM

Beautiful Time-Lapse Earth

Serychev volcano eruption from space
Look out above! A 2009 eruption of the Russian volcano Sarychev sends a plume towering into the sky, as seen from the International Space Station. Mesmerizing footage of this event is in the video below.

Photo by NASA

I will never get tired of time-lapse videos made from all the amazing still photos taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. Here’s one, called simply “Time-Lapse | Earth”, that’s quite lovely and serene:

The video was put together by Bruce W. Berry, Jr., using photos from The Gateway to Astronaut Photography, public-domain pictures hosted by NASA. One of my favorite things to do is try to figure out what part of the Earth I’m seeing in the clips; sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s not.

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One in particular, though, is worth noting. The volcanic plume punching through the cloud layer at the beginning of the video is from the June 12, 2009 eruption of Sarychev, in the Russian Kuril Islands chain to the northeast of Japan. The space station happened to fly almost directly above the volcano when it let loose, so they got quite a few pictures of it. I’ve seen video of it before, but it’s usually just the pictures strung together, so it’s a bit jumpy. Berry stabilized the video, keeping the shot smooth by shifting the frames to a common center, while retaining the motion of the station in the shot. The result is an amazing perspective view of the plume and mushroom cloud that gives a stomach-dropping sense of depth.

In just a few days, on May 13, 2013, Commander Chris Hadfield is set to make a fiery return Earth with two his crewmates Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko in a Soviet capsule. Hadfield has been taking and tweeting phenomenal images of our home planet nearly every day, many of which I’ve featured here on the blog. I hope that future astronauts will continue in the tradition of keeping us flatlanders in thrall with phenomenal pictures of Earth… and I hope others continue to create fantastic time-lapse videos from them, too.

Tip o’ the lens cap to my astronomer friend Amanda Bauer. If you’re not following her blog, you’re missing out. 

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