Timelapse Video: The Sky Over Siding Spring Observatory

Video Credit: Ángel R. López-Sanchez (AAO/MQ), Music: Point of no return (Robert Subirana)

The sun sets at Siding Spring Observatory (Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia) as the stars appear and the Milky Way Galaxy sweeps across the sky. Astronomers are using the telescopes to unveil the mysteries of the Universe. This 4:30 minute video compiles the best time-lapse sequences obtained at Siding Spring Observatory by astronomer Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO/Macquarie University) between August 2011 and March 2013, during his support astronomer duties for the 4-metre 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.

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 Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). 

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.

To download the video, please send a request to youtube@aao.gov.au .

Milky Way behind the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT)

 Photo Credit: Ángel R. López-Sanchez (AAO/MQ)