New Mountain Timelapse: A [Sound]Garden of Night Lights

Regardless of whether you like classic Soundgarden, anyone growing up in the 1990s probably recalls the eerily morphed faces of suburban America that made the music video for “Black Hole Sun” such a memorable part of the MTV rotation.

Almost 20 years later, videographer Christoph Malin has found his own way to tie this particular rock song to some unforgettable imagery.

In a new timelaspe video, Malin brings us views of the night sky in motion over Tyrol, Austria, and La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands, set to the astronomically titled tune.

What’s especially moving about this video is how well it illustrates the problem of light pollution: These hills are not only alive with the sound of music, but also with the glare of lights from towns in the valleys below.

In several scenes, clouds roiling across the dark skies glow with reflected light, serving as pretty darn good indicators of how much illumination even a mountain village can send skyward.

At about the 3:25 mark, the familiar constellation Orion rides across an otherwise clear sky—but then sinks into obscurity due to light pollution.

Contrasted against these images are scenes that showcase the beauty of a clear night sky.

This includes the glorious arc of the Milky Way as well as a fun sequence of the space shuttle Discovery during its last ever departure from the International Space Station.

(Also see “Best Night-Sky Pictures of 2011 Named.”)

As a bonus, Malin studded the end of the show with a few stills of his setup, which included several Nikon cameras (D3X, D700, D7000, D300) and the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero dolly system.

On a total tangent, I was a huge Soundgarden fan in 1994, but the title of this song always bothered me: Our sun isn’t destined to die as a supernova, which is what it takes to make a stellar-mass black hole.

Stars that are about eight times the sun’s mass or more are the ones that are massive enough to go supernova. The core of the exploded star can either become an ultradense neutron star or a black hole.

Less massive stars, including our sun, quietly puff up as they die and eventually shed their outer layers, leaving behind dense cores called white dwarfs amid clouds of gas and dust.

Binary white dwarfs feeding off each other can also trigger supernovas, but not so for solitary stars like the sun.

If the band wanted to be technically correct (which I hear is the best kind of correct), they should have titled the song “White Dwarf Sun”—but I guess that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Changing Planet