Tag Archives: 2011

Timelapse video: The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope

A dark winter night, with the Milky Way crossing the firmament while its center in located near the zenith, is one of the most astonishing views we can enjoy. This vision is only obtained from the Southern Hemisphere and it is really inspiring. In particular, the Milky Way shines over the Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran (NSW), where the famous Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) is located. With the idea of sharing the beauty of the night sky to everybody, in May 2011 I decided to start taking timelapse photography while I was working as support astronomer at the AAT. This technique consists on taking many images and then adding all to get a movie with a very high resolution. The best shots I obtained by September 2011 were included in the video The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope, which is available both in YouTube and in several MOV/MP4 files (HD, iPad, iPhone) in my personal AAO webpage.


“The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope” was my first public timelapse video, released in November 2011.
Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO/MQ), the credit of the music is Echoes from the past, by Dj Fab.

The video, which lasts for 2.7 minutes, is the results of combining around 3800 different frames obtained using a CANON EOS 600D between June and September 2011. Except for those frames used for the sunset in the first scene, all frames have a 30 seconds exposure time, with a ISO speed of 1600. As the videos were created at 24 fps (frames per second), each second in the movie corresponds to 12 minutes in real time. I used several lens to take the images (standard 50 mm, 50mm x 0.65 focal reducer and a 10 mm wide-angle lens). The focal chosen was 5.6 (for the 50 mm lens) or 4.5 (10 mm wide-angle lens). Processing each sequence of the movie took five to six hours of computer time, and usually I had to repeat this at least once for each sequence, to improve the quality. The soundtrack I chose is an extract of the music Echoes from the past, by the french composer Dj Fab, which gives energy to the timelapse.

The Milky Way is setting at Siding Spring Observatory on 21 Sep 2011.
Click here to get the full resolution frame.
Credit: Á.R. L-S.

As my main job while I’m at the AAT is providing instrumental and scientific support to the astronomers who are observing in this telescope, I always set the camera up at the beginning of the night, let it run, and check on its progress occasionally. Sometimes this was not easy: wind knocked the camera over on a couple of times, often the battery ran out, and even once I had an encounter with some intransigent kangaroos. However, finally I got this material, which does not only show the magnificent Milky Way rising and setting above the dome of the AAT, but also stars circling the South Celestial Pole, the Magellanic Clouds over the AAT, satellites and airplanes crossing the sky, the Moon rising and setting, and the most famous constellations as Orion, Carina and the Southern Cross.

Circumpolar star traces (2.7 hours) over the Anglo-Australian Telescope on 20 Sep 2011.
Click here to get the full resolution frame.
Credit: Á.R. L-S.

I hope you enjoy the result. More timelapse videos to come soon!

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From “El Lobo Rayado” to “The Lined Wolf”

Ángel R. López-Sánchez and the 2dF instrument at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope. Credit: Ella Pellegrini (Daily Telegraph).

Ángel R. López-Sánchez and the 2dF instrument at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope. Credit: Ella Pellegrini (Daily Telegraph).

Welcome to my new blog!

My name is Ángel R. López-Sánchez. I’m a Spanish astrophysicist working at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and in the Department of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonics of the Macquarie University (Sydney, NSW, Australia). My research in Astrophysics is focused in the analysis of star formation phenomena in galaxies of the local Universe, especially in dwarf starbursts and spiral galaxies, but using a multiwavelength approach.

In 2003, while starting my PhD thesis at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC, Canary Islands Institute for Astronomy, Spain) I decided to create a blog about Astronomy to share with Spanish speakers my interests about this fascinating science. That was the birth of my blog El Lobo Rayado. I chose this title because in that moment I was analyzing a very interesting class of starburst galaxies, the so-called Wolf-Rayet galaxies. A bad translation from English to Spanish of Wolf (which means Lobo) and Rayet (which does not have a translation into Spanish, but it sounds like Lined) seemed a very original title for a blog about Astronomy, furthermore considering that then I was spending a lot of time analyzing optical spectra of galaxies showing many emission lines. In 2003 blogs were not as common as they are today, and I can say that El Lobo Rayado was one of the very first (if not the first) Spanish blogs fully dedicated to Astronomy and Astrophysics written by a Spanish astrophysicist.

I got my PhD in Astrophysics in December 2006. I presented a detailed analysis of a sample of Wolf-Rayet galaxies, the majority of the optical and near-infrared observations were obtained by myself using the telescopes available at the Spanish astronomical observatories of El Roque de los Muchachos (La Palma), Izaña (Tenerife) and Calar Alto (Almeria).

In 2007 I moved to Australia to work at the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (then just known as Australia Telescope National Facility) as radio-astronomer. Actually, I’m a weird mix between an optical and a radio astronomer, although I’m also using data from other wavelenghts. Indeed, I’m combining ultraviolet, optical, infrared and radio data to characterise the physical and chemical properties of galaxies and get clues about their nature and evolution. Since January 2011 I’m working at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and Macquarie University (MQ) in Sydney (NSW, Australia).

My passion for Astronomy actually started when I was a kid, in the mountain ranges near my natal city, Córdoba (Spain), when I became an active amateur astronomer. Since 1991 I belong to the Agrupación Astronómica de Córdoba (AAC, Córdoba Astronomical Association). Besides being now a professional astronomer, I still feel like an amateur astronomer and indeed I enjoy a lot observing the sky with my eyes, binoculars or small telescopes and taking astronomical pictures using my own equipment.

I consider that outreach and publicizing Astronomy to the general public is very important and I’m usually involved in these activities. That is the reason I created both El Lobo Rayado and The Lined Wolf.

However, The Lined Wolf is not just a translation of El Lobo Rayado. Actually, I’m NOT going to translate a single post from one blog to the other. They will be complementary tools: I’ll continue writing in Spanish in El Lobo Rayado, as I consider it is very important to reach non-English speakers: the majority of the astronomical information, including press releases and hot news, is in English, and hence non-English speakers can still found some extra information about the most recent news about Astronomy in El Lobo Rayado. On the other hand, in the last few years I’ve been thinking it is also important for me to create my own blog about Astronomy in English. However, in this case my idea is to publicize my own research and explain the scientific papers I’m publishing, together with some of the adventures which involves to be a professional astronomer (observations in remote telescopes, conferences, workshops…). That is the aim that the blog The Lined Wolf has.

That also means I have to start from the beginning. There are many posts I still have to write here, just considering I’ll need at least a post per paper published in a refereed journal, plus posts showing some of my beautiful multiwavelength images. Shall we begin?