A 268-megapixel sensor might suffice for photographing the stars through a telescope, but apparently a sensor many times more powerful is needed for photographing alien planets from space. The European Space Agency has just finished building the largest camera ever to be used in space: a camera over three feet wide with a gigapixel sensor composed of 106 separate CCD sensors. Just to give you an idea of how powerful the camera is: it will be able to measure the width of a strand of hair from over 600 miles away, and the thumbnail of someone standing on the moon. Read more…
Inspired by Tor Even Mathisen’s stunning time-lapse of the aurora borealis over Norway, amateur photographer Ágúst Ingvarsson decided to try making his own time-lapse video to show the world what the northern lights look like over Iceland. Using a Canon 7D and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, he shot roughly 6,500 still photos between December 2010 and March 2011, using most of the images for this beautiful video.
Shoot a stunning time-lapse video of the Milky Way, and there’s a good chance it’ll go viral. Photographer Randy Halverson used a Canon 60D and Canon T2i with Tokina 11-16, Sigma 20mm F1.8, and Tamron 17-50 lenses to shoot these beautiful images of the night sky over South Dakota.
Shot in RAW format, the Milky Way shots were 30 seconds exposure F2.8 or F1.8 with 2 second interval between shots, for 3-4 hours run time. ISO 1600
Ten seconds of the video is about 2 hours 20 minutes in real time.
Amateur astronomy enthusiasts may be content with shooting the stars with a DSLR through a telescope, but what would a consortium of astronomy institutes use for photographing the night sky? The answer is the OmegaCam, a giant 1,700-lb camera found at the heart of the largest telescope designed for visible light surveying: the VST. It uses 32 separate CCD sensors that work together to form a giant 268-megapixel sensor, capturing 30 terabytes worth of photographs every year. The photograph seen above is the first released photo shot with this massive camera.
Photographer Ben Canales created this great video tutorial teaching the basics of shooting the night sky. He goes over how to shoot quick test shots to set up your composition before discussing more in-depth tips and tricks for capturing the final shot, including the “Rule of 600″:
[...] the quickest way to determine the longest exposure that is possible for any given focal length lens, without the stars streaking, is to divide that focal length into 600. (This is the formula for 35mm. Larger formats are laxer, smaller formats more unforgiving). [#]
For example, with a 50mm lens on a full frame camera, you can only expose for 12 seconds (600/50=12) before the stars turn into star trails. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind!
Time-lapse videos of the night sky usually feature breathtaking views of stars spinning in the background, but here’s a night sky time-lapse that offers a different perspective — instead of having the stars rotate overhead, the sky is fixed while the foreground spins around the frame. The original (and traditional) footage can be found here.
What you see above is the largest true-color photograph of the night sky ever created, shot by 28-year-old amateur astrophotographer Nick Risinger using six astronomical cameras. It’s not just the view of the sky from one location, but is instead a 360-panoramic view of the sky taken by trekking 60,000 miles across the western United States and South Africa starting in March 2010. The final image is composed of 37,000 separate photographs. Check out the massive zoomable high-definition version of the photo here.
You don’t need fancy camera gear to capture beautiful images and video of the night sky. The above video shows a timelapse created using 1262 photos captured with a Canon 20D at 30 second exposures and ISO 800. At the end there’s a star trails photo created by combining all the stills into a single image. It’s a great 1.25 minute dose of relaxation and inspiration.
If you live in an urban area, you probably don’t see the night sky very clearly due to light pollution. Luckily, there’s videos like this one to remind us how beautiful the sky above is when there aren’t artificial lights drowning out the stars. This is a high-definition time-lapse of the Milky Way floating across the sky.
Warning: this might inspire you to learn more about time-lapse and astrophotography.