Time-lapse: The Sky over Siding Spring Observatory

DP ENGLISH: This story belongs to the series “Double Post” which indicates posts that have been written both in English in The Lined Wolf and in Spanish in El Lobo Rayado.

DP ESPAÑOL: Esta historia entra en la categoría “Doble Post” donde indico artículos que han sido escritos tanto en español en El Lobo Rayado como en inglés en The Lined Wolf.

I’ve been waiting year and a half to finally see this happening. One of the displays I prepared for the Stories from Siding Spring Observatory Photo Exhibition (that was organized by staff of the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and originally released on 17th April 2013 at the Sydney Observatory), was a new time-lapse video compiling scenes showing all the telescopes at the Siding Spring Observatory (Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia) before the terrible bushfires that destroyed the Warrumbungle National Park and seriously affected the very same Observatory on 13th January 2013. However I couldn’t do this time-lapse video public until today, as it is the very first video to be included in the AAO Youtube channel. So here it is the time-lapse video “The Sky over Siding Spring Observatory:

Video time-lapse The Sky over Siding Spring Observatory. To enjoy it as its best, I strongly recommend you to see it at its highest resolution (FullHD) and full screen in a dark room. Credit: Video Credit: Ángel R. López-Sanchez (AAO/MQ), Music: Point of no return (Rogert Subirana).

I think this is the best time-lapse video I have created so far. It last 4:30 minutes and it compiles the best time-lapse sequences I obtained at Siding Spring Observatory between August 2011 and March 2013, during my support astronomer duties for the 4-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). Telescopes at Siding Spring Observatory featured include the Uppsala Near Earth Object Survey Telescope, the UNSW Automated Patrol Telescope, the 2.3m ANU Telescope, 1.2m Skymapper ANU, the 1.2m UK Schmidt Telescope (AAO) and the very own Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT).

Throughout the video, watch for several astronomical objects: our Milky Way Galaxy, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Moon rising and setting, the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, Zodiacal Light, Earth-orbiting satellites, airplanes crossing the sky, the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters, the Coalsack and the Carina nebulae, and famous constellations like the Southern Cross, Taurus, Orion, and Scorpio.

The time-lapse technique consists of taking many images and then adding all to get a movie with a very high resolution. In particular, the camera CANON EOS 600D and two lenses (a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens and a standard 35-80 mm lens) were used to get the frames of this time-lapse video. Except for those frames taken during the sunset in the first scene, frames usually have a 30 seconds exposure time, with a ISO speed of 1600. Some few scenes were shot using 15 or 20 seconds exposure time. All sequences were created at 24 fps (frames per second), and hence a second in the movie corresponds to 12 minutes in real time for the majority of the scenes. In total, the video combines around 5800 individual frames. Processing each 10 – 20 seconds sequence took between five and six hours of computer time. Care was taken to remove artifacts and hot pixels from individual frames, minimize background noise, and get an appropriate colour/contrast balance.

I hope you like it. Comments and posting about it in social media are very welcome.

More information and previous time-lapses

Video in the AAO YouTube Channel.

AAO Webpage: Timelapse Video: The Sky Over Siding Spring Observatory (25th Sep 2014)

Timelapse video: The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope (3rd May 2013).

Timelapse video: A 2dF night at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (7th May 2014).

4 responses to “Time-lapse: The Sky over Siding Spring Observatory

  1. Great Work! I really enjoyed watching it!

    What software did you use and how did you do the zooms and pans?

    I recently did a similar time lapse myself using a 600D: https://vimeo.com/channels/808437

    Greetings, Jan

  2. Thanks, Jan, I already watched your time-lapse some few days ago, great work! I’ve also been in Tenerife and La Palma recently and I was expecting to prepare something like that you show in your video, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it!

    I’m using Photoshop for getting every sequence: Photoshop allows to create movies from frames, and it is the best I’ve found to have a good control of everything. I create these sequences at high resolution (that is, the resolution of the original frames, which it is always larger than the FullHD resolution). Later I use Final Cut to add all sequences together with the music, and it was there when I did the movements (zooms and pans) from the original sequences. I didn’t explain this in the text, but just preparing the video took me several days, also because I like that music and video are “connected” in some way.

    I hope this helps!


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