Cool Time-Lapse Video of the Australian Sky Shows the Stars Rising Backward

The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 7 2013 11:00 AM

Australian Time-Lapse Makes Me Want to Stand on My Head

annular eclipse of the Sun
The horns of the Sun; an annular eclipse rising into the Australian sky.

Photo by Teoh Hui Chieh, from the video.

Since I’m heading down to Australia, here’s a wonderful time-lapse video made from shots taken in May by Malaysian photographer Teoh Hui Chieh. There are some remarkable directions taken in this video, which I’ll note below.

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!  

(Note: Chieh has a collection of pictures used in this video and from her visit to Australia on Flickr and has a blog called My Dark Sky, where she documents her work; she has a description of the video there as well.)


At 20 seconds or so, there is a nice 360-degree all-sky view. Usually these are fixed, with the camera motionless while the stars move in the sky, but Chieh set it so that the stars don’t move and the horizon does. It generates a decidedly odd feeling, a view I’m not used to seeing.

At 1:28 the May annular solar eclipse rises into view; the Moon was in between the Earth and Sun, but happened to be at a part of its orbit when it was farther from Earth than on average, so it appeared smaller. This means it couldn’t completely block the Sun.

Notice too that as the Sun and Moon rise they move up and to the left. That always get me; in the Northern Hemisphere the Sun and Moon rise moving to the right. Seeing the Sun rise backward always throws me off, but that’s the way things are for folks south of the equator, standing on their heads as they do.

At 3:13 you see Orion setting, and Chieh played with the star trails to make them match the music, trailing one way and then another. I was impressed by that; it really adds some great drama to the video. The next few sequences get their timing stretched and zoomed to match the music as well. Very cool.

And throughout the video are the stars and sights we don’t get in the northern latitudes: the Southern Cross, Alpha and Beta Centauri, the Coal Sack, the Magellanic Clouds. Many of these objects should be up in the sky and visible while I’m in Australia. I hope to get some pictures while I’m down there. I don’t know when I’ll get to see them again with my own eyes.

Until then, I suppose, I can watch amazing videos like this one.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Nicolas Sarkozy, Thrice Married, Says Gay Marriage Humiliates the Family

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 5:33 PM The Politics of Stigma Why are lighter-skinned Latinos and Asians more likely to vote Republican?
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
Sept. 22 2014 4:06 PM No, Women’s Soccer Does Not Have a Domestic Violence Problem Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 5:45 PM The University of California Corrects “Injustice” by Making Its Rich Chancellors Even Richer
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.