Stunning Time-Lapse Video of Arizona’s Milky Way

The entire universe in blog form
May 13 2014 7:30 AM

Time-Lapse: YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ

screenshot from the video
Do that hoodoo you do so well. (Yes, I know it's not a hoodoo, but it's funny.)

Photo by Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović, from the video

I don’t post as many time-lapse videos of the sky as I used to, because of the “been there done that” syndrome. It really takes something special now to make it stand out from the zillions of other animations on the ‘Net.

This one stands out: “YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ,” which is Navajo for Milky Way. You’ll see why.

Advertisement

Holy wow. The colors! This animation was done by Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović (Gavin created the videos “Death Valley Dreamlapse” and “Borrego Stardance,” which have graced my blog in the past). They filmed it in Grand Canyon National Park.

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!  

I’ve been to this part of the country, and the colors really are that crisp and electric; the red buttes and hoodoos are stunning at sunset. I’m glad they spent a minute letting the natural setting pop out before hitting the night sky.

And that they do. The Milky Way is the star of the show; the galactic bulge, disk, and dark fingers of vast dust lanes as clear as if this were taken from space. Well, sort of; I was impressed by the mix of clouds and sky, to be honest. The contrast was interesting, and it’s rather amazing the Milky Way could stand out so clearly above the cloud line.

One thing I want to point out specifically: At 2:10 in, a meteor flashes and leaves behind a curling wisp of what looks like smoke. This is called a persistent train, the vaporized remains of the meteoroid itself, and can glow for several minutes. The upper level winds from 60–100 km above Earth’s surface are what blow it into those curlicues.

The mirror effect at about the three-minute mark is interesting, too. It’s just a bit of artistic license, much like making the stars streak at various other parts of the video.

These videos are fascinating to me, especially the way the natural beauty of the sky merges with the camera motion and music. A photographer with a sharp eye, sense of scenery, and taste in music can really put together an amazing piece of work. I’m glad to be able to share them with all of you.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.