“A History of the Sky”: The Passing of a Year in a Mosaic of Time-Lapses

Ken Murphy has completed his ambitious “A History of the Sky” project, which we first got a glimpse of in March of last year. Wanting to reveal the patterns of light and weather over the course of a year, Murphy installed a still camera on the roof of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, pointed at the sky and snapping a photo every 10 seconds around the clock.

After a year had passed, Murphy made this time-lapse mosaic, with each box — arranged chronologically — showing the time-lapse of a single day. They’re all synchronized by time-of-day, and provide an interesting way of looking how sunrises, sunsets, and weather change over the course of a year.

  • Cata


  • Dirk Essl

    This would make an awesome screensaver

  • Retor

    Every ten secods for a year? That’s a whole lot of pictures. I find it pretty unlikely that this is done using a still camera. I suspect the setup captures frames from video.

  • Ken

    Hi Retor-

    I did in fact use a still camera.  And yes it’s whole lot of pictures… 3+ million per year.  I was only shooting at 1024×768, though, and disk space is cheap.  The whole process of capturing the images and generating the images was automated, so it was actually pretty manageable.


  • kendon

    fantastic. until i played the video i had no idea how fascinating this is.

  • David Dickson

    Very Cool. I was surprised at how many sunny days Frisco gets. If we tried it here in Vancouver it would be a very gray screen of images.

  • Retor

    Thanks for the reply. It’s an impressive project. I was actually referring more to the longevity of the camera than the amount of data. That is a lot of shutter activations!

  • Ken

    Ah.  Yes time-lapse is murder on shutters… this project went through about 2 cameras/year.