The Mountain

Time-lapse videos of the night sky never cease to amaze me, but this one just blew my mind. Turn up the volume, set to HD, and marvel at seven days of sky on Teide:

The Mountain from TSO Photography.

The video was made by Norwegian landscape photographer Terje Sørgjerd in 2011 at Tiede National Park in the Canary Islands. Tiede is home to the Teide Observatory which makes an appearance in the video.

One really amazing feature in the video occurs at about 0:32 seconds where the Milky Way is seen rising above a foreground of orange clouds. Those “clouds” are actually sand from a sandstorm that hit the Sahara desert a couple of days earlier. The whole scene looks like it was taken from another planet and is just jaw-dropping.

As I watch the video, I cannot help but consider that as crowded as the sky is with stars, each of those stars are light-years away from one another; each as alone in the void as we are. And yet seen like this, they appear stacked on top of one another, creating the illusion of a crowded galaxy.

Space is big, and insanely beautiful at the same time. My thanks to Natalie Batalha  for spotting this.

Rising Crescent Sun

My friend Mark Kochte has done it again, this time capturing a spectacular time-lapse of this week’s partial solar eclipse (as seen from those of us on the East Coast). Click HD, go full screen, turn up your speakers, and enjoy:

Partial Solar Eclipse 2013 by Mark “Indy” Kochte

The sequence is brief, as was the eclipse itself, lasting no more than 10 about 40 minutes from sunrise. By this time, the Moon’s shadow was directly over the Atlantic Ocean. People on a ship at the right location were being treated to a spectacular show.

We need a bigger boat! Map of the 2013 solar eclipse courtesy Michael Zeiler
We need a bigger boat! Map of the 2013 solar eclipse courtesy Michael Zeiler

Meanwhile, back in Maryland, Mark wanted to get as “low” on the horizon as possible, so he made a predawn trip down to the Chesapeake Bay to capture the Sun as it rose over the water’s edge.

As you watch the video, you’ll see the moon moving westward away from the Sun, casting its shadow further west toward Africa.

It’s a beautiful video and, coupled with an understanding of where we stood on Earth at the time of eclipse, serves as a powerful reminder of just how fortunate we are to live on a planet with a satellite at just the right distance to completely eclipse the Sun for a few minutes every now and then.

Saving Maryland’s Night Sky (video)

Baltimore skyline

Here’s some hopeful news! There is a bill before Maryland’s House of Delegates to require energy-efficient lighting, and done so in such a way as to reduce light pollution – that is, street light spilling into the night sky where it does nobody any good whatsoever. Here’s the synopsis:

Expanding the prohibition on the use of State funds to install or replace specified luminaires by including funds to operate specified luminaires in the prohibition and applying the prohibition to all permanent outdoor luminaires unless the luminaires meet specified requirements; establishing specified requirements for luminaires intended for specified lighting purposes; etc.

As legislation goes, this a no-brainer:  the State of Maryland would only purchase energy-efficient outdoor lighting that is designed to light the subjects in question (the streets, the buildings, the flags) and not the stuff we want to keep dark, such as the night sky. The result is money saved, carbon emissions reduced, public safety preserved, and a darker sky that we can all look up and enjoy.

Thats why there is a petition on asking for public support for HB1295. Please sign and tell your friends!

Thanks to my friend Mark Kochte, we have an idea of what such skies could look like, without having to drive for 2 1/2 hours from the nearest city to appreciate it. Enjoy this video, and support HB1295!

Maryland Nights II from Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte on Vimeo.