Tag Archives: stars

Namibian Nights – a timelapse film

This has been out for a few years but isn’t as well known as it should be, judging by its paltry 71,000 YouTube views. (“Paltry” is a relative term here. Think of that pop star you don’t like and compare the numbers from their latest video.) Filmmaker Marsel van Oosten spent two years creating this magical minute-and-ten-seconds, shooting thirty photographs for each second of video. The result is a stunning look at the night sky in the one of the world’s exotic places.

While the land that frames the view differs from place to place, in theory that amazing night sky is available anywhere, with specific star content varying based on your latitude. But in reality, we city-dwellers live under an impoverished sky lit by hundreds (and maybe only dozens) of stars. To truly experience the night sky the way our ancestors did, you have to go someplace without much “light pollution.”

I remember the first time I saw the night sky in its full glory, many years ago in a remote part of western South Dakota. It was a crisp night in March, with a bit of breeze in the juniper trees and an occasional lowing of cattle. Before the moon came out the sky was inky black between the stars and for the first time I understood the aptness of the name “Milky Way,” which had always seemed like a bit of poetic license.

A video is no substitute for the real thing, but it’s something, and if it spurs you to go out in search of dark sky, it will have served a good purpose.

(I learned of this video from the always-wonderful Open Culture.)

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Both place and time were changed… (Walden 50)

Milky Way. Via Wikipedia

Milky Way. Via Wikipedia

Read this and remember that Thoreau is living only about a mile and a half from town:

“Both place and time were changed, and I dwelt nearer to those parts of the universe and to those eras in history which had most attracted me. Where I lived was as far off as many a region viewed nightly by astronomers. We are wont to imagine rare and delectable places in some remote and more celestial corner of the system, behind the constellation of Cassiopeia’s Chair, far from noise and disturbance. I discovered that my house actually had its site in such a withdrawn, but forever new and unprofaned, part of the universe.” Continue reading

Having fun with the mind-blowing scale of the universe

Want to feel microscopic, absolutely mind-bogglingly small? Or maybe you’d like to be bigger than gigantic, a universe in yourself? The Scale of the Universe 2 by Cary Huang is one of the coolest websites out there, fun for both kids and grownups. It’s been around for a while, but having only recently learned of it myself, I thought maybe you haven’t experienced it either.

scale of the universe

Just a screenshot – click the link above to go there.

This screenshot gives you only a rough idea of the site. The beauty of it is that you can zoom in and out. Way, way in and way, way out, from the smallest theorized object (strings from string theory) to the circumference of the known universe. You start at human size and can zoom larger or smaller, comparing the sizes of objects along the way. Continue reading