Auroras on a Plane—Wild New Time-Lapse Video

Perhaps because he could no longer fly on the Concorde, Air France passenger Nate Bolt decided to simulate what it would be like to fly from San Francisco to Paris—in just two minutes.

In reality, the flight lasted about 11 hours, taking off from California at 3:35 p.m. local time, crossing over Greenland at night, and landing in France at 11:10 a.m. local time.

But instead of packing books and B-movies, Bolt came prepared with a unique form of onboard entertainment: time-lapse photography equipment.

With a whole row to himself, Bolt had lots of room to set up a digital SLR camera, a tripod, and a time-lapse controller, arranged to take pictures out the plane window every 2 to 30 seconds, depending on exposure time. That’s about a picture every two miles, Bolt calculates.

In total he racked up 2,459 still frames that, when strung together, result in a two-minute movie of the world going by.

This is pretty cool in and of itself. But in the dark of night Bolt got an even cooler surprise: a vivid green aurora borealis.

The photographer said couldn’t see the northern lights with his naked eyes, according to The Christian Science Monitor. But when he previewed the long-exposure shots on his camera, the auroras leapt from the LCD screen.

(See pictures of “deep sky” auroras.)

With some viewers wondering how Bolt saw northern lights from a south-facing window, he replied in his YouTube comments:

“Basically, SF to Paris takes you over Greenland and the Arctic Circle, because that’s the straightest route (crazy, I know), so from that location and flying altitude, you can see northern lights from both sides of the plane.”

Lucky duck!

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