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Space Science

Time Lapse Video of the VLT In Chile 105

Posted by timothy
from the industrial-light-and-magic dept.
schwit1 writes with a video "captured by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile's Atacama Desert. And it might make you cry. What makes this time lapse particularly amazing — because we've all seen plenty of time lapse videos of the night sky — is the four telescopes in the foreground. Watching these instruments work against a black background would be endlessly fascinating on its own. Unfortunately you won't be able to pay them too much attention. Because damn, what a sky."
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Time Lapse Video of the VLT In Chile

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  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:27AM (#36279510)

    Instead of sending everyone to another blog to view the postage stamp sized video in an embedded player, here's the link to the original video at YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFpeM3fxJoQ [youtube.com]

    Nice use of HDR in the video. How did they do that?

    • I'm referring to what looks like an HDR shot at 0:45, btw.

      • When you're doing a slow time lapse photos taken a few minutes apart really won't have much effect on the end result. Shoot bracketed photos. Stitch them together with a program that supports batch, use ffmpeg to make a time lapse.

    • Astounding no matter how the links take you to the video. Has anyone physically been there? Aside from the time lapse, how much of this is editing and how much would you see if you just camped out there for a few nights? If its anything close it would be worth a trip.
      • by mrxak (727974)

        I found the video to be fairly tedious and the music annoying. If you want to see the entire night sky in much better quality and without any telescopes cluttering it up, check out the skysurvey project. You'll have to provide your own soundtrack.

        http://media.skysurvey.org/interactive360/index.html [skysurvey.org]

        • by nschubach (922175)

          What I like about the time lapse (and hopefully I wasn't just seeing things) was the "parallax" you got with different stars in the milky way where some stars would move faster across the sky than others in the video. It felt more alive than static photos stitched together.

        • There are beautiful 720p films of other observatories from the same photographer on vimeo [vimeo.com]

          And Sidereal Motion from the Bailey-Salgado project [baileysalgadoproject.com] is also very interesting.

          Sidereal Motion (2010) is a four-movement film+music work about the night sky as photographed from five astronomical observatories around the world. It features awe-inspiring time-lapse sequences and still images shot by Salgado and original music by Bailey. The close correlation between music and visuals results in a work where the combination of these is much greater than the sum of its parts.

      • by Splab (574204)

        Has anyone physically been there?

        No, those 4 buildings where put there by aliens who also happened to put up a camera and come down to us with it...

      • by m85476585 (884822)
        I haven't been there, but I've been to Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona, and the one on Mauna Kea (but we couldn't stay on top of Mauna Kea much past sunset, sadly). Mauna Kea was surreal even during the day because it feels like you are on top of the world.

        The most amazing view of the night sky I've seen was at Kitt Peak. It really does look a lot like this video, but not as bright and without all the color. To be able to see the sky like this requires an absolutely dark location, and you will be seeing
        • by e4g4 (533831)
          The most amazing view I've seen of the night sky was from the Daintree Rainforest in Australia. The view of the milky way (and the night sky, in general) is far better in the Southern hemisphere than it is in the Northern. I'm jealous of everyone who gets to see it every night. Mind you, as I currently live in NYC, there are still loads in the Northern hemisphere who've got it better than me.
          • A depressingly large number of Aussie's have never seen our night sky in all it's glory because they simply have not bothered to walk away from the holiday cabin lights and take a look.
    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      Thanks for the link. Very soothing and beautiful video clip. Majes me want to look at star trek again ;-)

    • by SKPhoton (683703) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @01:47PM (#36280846) Homepage
      It actually isn't traditional HDR (where multiple exposures are combined into one frame to create a final image with higher dynamic range.) What you're talking about is somehow gradually increasing the exposure to progressively let more light in as it gets darker as the sun sets. There's currently no magical way to achieve this, but there are a number of different techniques that people have implemented thus far including using light meters to watch the ambient light and either lengthen the shutter speed or gradually stop down the lens aperture, using multiple cameras to bracket different exposures and bounce between the cameras in post-processing, and so on.

      You can read about these techniques in more detail at the very bottom of this tutorial [timescapes.org] under the header labeled Timelapse "Holy Grail"? Sunset, Sunrise, Day to Night Transitions.
  • This is one of the most accurate summaries I've seen on Slashdot for quite some time :)

    • Yeah. Word for word repost of a professionally written article.

      BTW, nice article. Great images. Makes you realize how insignificant we are.
  • by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:33AM (#36279540)
    But seeing this made me weep.
    The universe is beautiful.
    • by JD770 (1227350)

      I haven't seen skies like this since my teenaged years, camping in the Big Bend NP under a cloudless, new moon.

      The sensation you get when seeing more stars than sky is something that must be experienced fist hand. Pictures rarely seem to do it justice.

      I can't wait to see their faces when my children get to experience it!

    • But seeing this made me weep.

      This universe is beautiful.

      ftfy

  • And play some early Pink Floyd or Moody Blues.. It works much better... Sure wish they dissolved instead of cutting the edits

    • Cross-dissolves are annoying and used only by people new to Windows Movie Maker.

      • Cross-dissolves are annoying...

        Well, I suppose that's true for those who only watch cop shows on the TV, but anybody with any sense for aesthetics will heartily disagree.

        FYI: a dissolve of less than a second would work quite nicely.

        • Well, I suppose that's true for those who only watch cop shows on the TV, but anybody with any sense for aesthetics will heartily disagree.

          As a professional in the video production and broadcast industry, I will heartily disagree that people heartily disagree with my original point.

          Cross-dissolves work in very specific circumstances. This video looked great with hard cuts. Cross-dissolves would look stupid.

          • *sigh* MTV has destroyed a whole generation it seems.. I hope you're not one of those who believe that holding a steady shot for more than five seconds is boring.. Irreconcilable differences of opinion is where this will stand.. You're stepping on my pasto...

            • *sigh* MTV has destroyed a whole generation it seems.. I hope you're not one of those who believe that holding a steady shot for more than five seconds is boring.. Irreconcilable differences of opinion is where this will stand.. You're stepping on my pasto...

              Absolutely not. If that was the case, I would have found the video we're discussing to be boring. MTV is absolute shit with regards to both their content and production value. Dissolves ARE boring, though, and way overused. This video does not need them. Why use them when they're not needed?

              • Again, you seem to be under the impression that all dissolves are 5 seconds or longer. Try half a second, and you might be able to comprehend what I'm saying. Seems like subtlety isn't being taught anymore. and maybe the cacophony they used for the soundtrack is throwing you off. The shots are beautiful, but it's obvious the composition was put together by punks trying to be hip. The styles clash worse than 'Red China on a blue tablecloth'.. Eh, whatever, I'm just too much of a romantic..

                • by niklask (1073774)

                  The shots are beautiful, but it's obvious the composition was put together by punks trying to be hip.

                  And you know this how? I know JF Salgado personally and he is by no standards a punk. He is in fact a very professional astronomer and visualizer. It may not be your style but that in no way means he is a punk.

              • Absolutely not. If that was the case, I would have found the video we're discussing to be boring. MTV is absolute shit with regards to both their content and production value. Dissolves ARE boring, though, and way overused. This video does not need them. Why use them when they're not needed?

                I would have cropped it a little different, more to the left.

          • by adamina (2205736)
            This looks like a job for for star wipes! Why eat hamburger when you can have steak?
    • by Hatta (162192)

      You're old. I'm not well versed enough in post-rock to identify the artist, but it fit the video well.

      • You're old.

        :-) Shhh! You're blowing my cover...

        And you call that racket 'art'? Damn! I guess I am old..

        Actually the music is perfectly fine.. if it were used over the videos of the OBL raid.

      • The track is called We Happy Few and it is from the band The Calm Blue Sea, a post-rock band from Austin.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Check this video out too...different perspective to what we're used to seeing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1O66XsbrOA&feature=watch_response

  • At 6:35 the sky is falling, literally, astounding.......

  • What surprises me about the first scene of the video, is the amount of stars that are visible while the mountains are still bathing in light. In fact, the number of visible stars at the top of the video doesn't change much during the progress from dusk to night.
    For a moment, I suspected the uploader of superimposing a night sky image on a local sunset. There must be a better explanation, but I can't find it.

    • by Raenex (947668)

      Of course it's manipulated like crazy. You'll never see anything like this with the naked eye.

    • The better explanation is this: That's no sun. It's the moon! If you take a long exposure shot on a moonlit night, the sky will be blue and the land will appear sunlit, but there will be stars visible in the sky - just like in this video. Occasionally the moon itself is visible as a very bright spot. Note that when the sun rises the shot becomes completely overexposed, and that's why several scenes end with everything washing out and becoming white.
  • by Tasha26 (1613349) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @12:30PM (#36280244) Homepage
    A month ago TSOPhotography posted this time-lapse video of the milky way [vimeo.com] (please watch it in HD). No VLT here and the results are amazing, not to mention the soundtrack... even National Geography forwarded their link. Enjoy :)
    • No VLT, but a short glimpse on Teide observatory, though... ;D With or without, beautiful movie, thanks for the link.
  • I live in the city, and I only see a few stars at night thanks to the stray light from street lanterns. I have never seen a night's sky like the one in the video in my life.

  • Beautiful video! Does anyone know what the orange laser is used for? Pointing things out to others? Bouncing off the moon? Shooting those pesky UFOs?
    • by Nick Ives (317)

      Apparently it's a guide star laser: http://www.toptica.com/pr_news/news/news_single/article//toptica-is-awarded-5-mio-EUR-contract-by-eso-for-sodium-guide-star-facility.html [toptica.com]

      So I'd guess they use it to make sure they're pointing in the right direction when taking observations.

    • Beautiful video! Does anyone know what the orange laser is used for? Pointing things out to others? Bouncing off the moon? Shooting those pesky UFOs?

      It's an aiming laser. It's sort of described in the ESO website. Seems to help the other telescopes track. Remember that these telescopes are hooked together to form a "Very Large Telescope".

      My original thought was that the astronomers were bored and were shooting aliens, but I guess that's not the case.

    • by arun84h (1454607)

      That's the adaptive optics system which basically creates an artificial star [wikipedia.org] for the telescope to focus on. This helps correct light distortion, as well as warding off any stray UFOs.

    • Re:Orange Laser?? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dusty101 (765661) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @03:13PM (#36281394)

      Yup. As others have pointed out, it's a laser guide star. In a nutshell, the basic idea is that the thing (e.g. a star) that the telescope's looking at gets all smeared out & wibbly wobbly by foreground atmospheric variations (twinkling). The idea here is that if you generate a bright spot in the sky with known properties close to the thing you want to observe, then by comparing what your spot looks like with what you know it should look like, you can calculate which tiny variable distortions you want to add in to the perfect curve of your mirrors to counteract these atmospheric wobbles. The thinking is that if you can correct the wobbles in your fake "star" & it's close to the real one on the sky, then the correction can be assumed to be about the same.

      The actual corrective distortions to the mirror are handled by things that are basically very precise, very small computer-controlled pistons that can apply corrections many per second.

      (For the record, IAAA - I Am An Astrophysicist ,although I've worked at other observatories - not specifically at the VLT).

      • As Astrophysicist, could you point out what all those shutters on the telescope buildings that constantly open and close are all about?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The shutters regulate temperature; temperature changes make light passing though air "wobble".

      • Thanks for the explanation. Makes sense now :)
      • by Trogre (513942)

        Thank you for the explanation. I do have a couple of questions:

        Unless shining directly onto a solid object the laser won't form as much a point as a beam that tails off as it leaves the atmosphere. How much of this beam is used for reference? I guess my question can be rephrased, what /shape/ does the adaptive optics see in the sodium beam?

        Another question, given the 1 milliarcsecond resolution of the VLT (apparently sufficient to resolve two car headlights on the moon), is there any chance someone will

  • by Slutticus (1237534) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @12:55PM (#36280424)
    Busily exploring our world. Wow. It almost brought a tear to my eye....is that weird? Something about watching those telescopes buzzing away with activity against that background....
  • Science makes beautiful things, Artists create beautiful things. The rest are management and they just make a lot of money somehow... no justice in the world.

  • It's getting to be a meme on youtube, where they start with quiet, soft, soothing music, UNTIL ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY BUMP IT 60DB about 35 seconds in, sending me scrambling for my volume control. Don't turn your volume up like I did. God I hate that.

    But the video still looks nice while listening to the sounds of my ears ring.

  • by tanveer1979 (530624) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @02:09PM (#36280980) Homepage Journal

    High altitude observatories are usually located at places with little light pollution, and clean air.
    I have made two trips to Hanle(4400m above MSL)
    For the first visit, we could not see stars as it was overcast(a rare event!)
    However, on the second visit, we did see an amazing sky.
    http://tanveer.smugmug.com/Travel/Ladakh-2010/Chushul-Hanle/IMG3746/906412622_rooft-XL.jpg [smugmug.com]

    I am told there are some high altitude observatories in Andes mountains(4500m approx)
    2600m above sea level is one of the lowest.

    • by Fubari (196373)
      Beautiful shot - I'm happy for you; I have to put that on my travel wish list now :-)
    • by Shag (3737)

      Nice sky there! I've been aware of Hanle/Mt. Saraswati for a while, because it's one of the three observatory sites in the world (the 5000m part of the Atacama Desert in Chile and ~4300m Mt. Evans outside Denver are the other two) that are higher than Mauna Kea (where I work [naoj.org] and sometimes take pretty pictures [birchalls.net]), but this is the first picture I've seen of the night sky there. If I ever get back to India, I want to go there, instead of hanging out in Delhi again. :)

    • by Kentari (1265084)
      For visual observing there's little point in going above 2000m a.s.l. unless you are properly adapted to working at high altitude (or live there). The drop in oxygen saturation reduces your visual acuity. Some 'hard core' observers do take oxygen with them on observing trips at high altitude. For (professional) photographic work (CCD), especially IR, the higher the better... The challenge then becomes building the observatory and getting your staff there.
  • I second that remark. Gotta put vacation in remote southern hemisphere location on my list.
  • I am heading to the site of a new observatory (much higher energy) in Mexico this weekend. At a nominal elevation of 4100 m I hope we can get some images like those presented in the video. Seems like a great way to show people why building observatories in such hard to reach places is necessary.

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