The Sciences

Time lapse: Under the Namibian Sky

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitApr 12, 2012 4:00 PM

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Oh, how I love time lapse video of the sky! I always peer closely, trying to recognize stars, constellations, galaxies, and other land(sky?)marks. This is more of a challenge for me when the view shows the southern sky, but it's a whole lot easier when the videographer annotates the video itself... as in this breathtaking video called Under the Namibian Sky:

[embed width="610"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM5lM5WEY3Q[/embed]

[Set it to HD and make it full screen for the full effect.] The video is 13 minutes long, so I won't blame you for scrolling through it. But there's a lot to see, and most of it is labeled for you! Namibia is located at about 20° south latitude, so for us northerners there are some odd things, most especially the Sun setting from right to left! Up here, when you face south and/or west, the Sun moves from left to right. But when you're upside down, things are backwards. ... or even upside-down, as the video helpfully notes when Orion comes into view. That always gets me (I saw it for myself when I visited Australia a few years ago, and it truly freaked me out). Some other things to note: keep your eyes open at the 7:20 mark for a meteor with a persistent train

, and for the repeated sight of the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds (labeled SMC and LMC in the video): dwarf companion galaxies to our Milky Way. This really makes me long for another visit down below the equator. I have no idea when or even if that might happen again, but if it does, I'll make sure I have their skies firmly planted in my brain. Simply viewing the heavens is a wonderful experience, but knowing what you're seeing adds a whole dimension to it

. I think understanding is always an added benefit while experiencing.

Tip o' the lens cap to LRTimelapse on G+.

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