Human Journey

Experience The Night Sky Like Never Before

…with this stunning time-lapse video by photographer Randy Halverson, set to a dramatic score by Bear McCreary. Amazing!

This is four minutes of some of the most breathtaking sky you’ve ever seen. Shot in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Utah and Colorado during the months of June, September and October 2011, the video is made up of multiple long-exposure photographs painstakingly combined into seamless footage, capturing the stars, sky and landscape together in a way that conventional video cameras cannot.

What you are seeing here is an ordered array of literally thousands of 15-30 second exposures shot with professional Canon dSLRs, and given life via the music of composer Bear McCreary.

Randy describes the video on his post on Vimeo:

In the opening “Dakotalapse” title shot, you see bands of red and green moving across the sky. After asking several astronomers, they are possible noctilucent clouds, airglow or faint aurora. I never got a definite answer to what it is. You can also see the red and green bands in other shots.

(Note: these appear to this non-expert to be high-level noctilucent clouds, moving in ripple motion that I have seen before on other low-light time-lapse footage. Noctilucent, or “night-shining”, clouds are created by fine ice particles high in the extremely cold, dry layer of atmosphere called the mesosphere — nearly at the edge of space, 50 to 80 km up. Then again, they could be aurora or airglow… it’s too quick to tell for certain.)

A "persistent train" captured on camera. (© Randy Halverson)

At :53 and 2:17 seconds into the video you see a meteor with a persistent train. Which is ionizing gases, which lasted over a half hour in the camera’s frame. Phil Plait wrote an article about the phenomena here.

There is a second meteor with a much shorter persistent train at 2:51 in the video. This one wasn’t backlit by the moon like the first, and moves out of the frame quickly. Watch for two deer at 1:27.

Most of the video was shot near the White River in central South Dakota during September and October 2011, there are other shots from Arches National Park in Utah, and Canyon of the Ancients area of Colorado during June 2011. The aurora were shot in central South Dakota in September 2011 and near Madison, Wisconsin on October 25, 2011.

I asked Randy why the auroras appear yellow in color in many of the scenes.

“I’m not sure why they were yellow either,” he replied. “They were really far off on the horizon and I was just seeing the top of them. The exposures on those were 30 seconds at ISO 3200, maybe the long exposure did make them that way. I really don’t know.”

Randy also offered this bit of insight:

“One night while we were shooting timelapse, my son and I saw a fireball meteor. I thought it looked like it was maybe 50 miles away. It ended up being right over Fargo, ND, over 300 miles away. So the aurora then were probably at least that far north, if not further.”

Wherever the northern lights were that night, the footage Randy got is nothing short of amazing. Thanks so much to him and to his team for putting this all together and sharing with us!

Visit Randy’s website at for more amazing time-lapse videos. (There’s also an extended 23-minute version of the above video available here.)

Video © Randy Halverson. Music by Bear McCreary. All rights reserved. Used with permission. See this and more articles about sky and space on my blog!

I'm a graphic designer and space blogger, currently writing for National Geographic News, Discovery News, Universe Today and on my own blog, Lights in the Dark. The Universe is an amazing place and I'm going to tell you about it, one discovery at a time.
  • regan talbert

    The stars around here are just about all gone….I know where they went now

  • greenplan

    Really amazing.

  • stuart lucas

    awesome stuff…

  • stuart lucas

    awesome stuff..

  • Edis Mharga Villahermosa

    Awesome, only Elohim can explain about this!

  • Dr Habu Abdul

    Absolutely stunning!

  • Selim Uygun

    O great Lord, I thank goodness..
    Ey büyük rabbim,bütün şükür ve hamdler yanlız sanadır.Peygamberimiz Hz.Muhammed Mustafa’ya(Salllahualeyhivesellem) ve aliine salat ve selam olsun..

  • Alan Chin Weng Lon

    This is never seen before photographic experience for the nice sky , could be the best one ever to trigger the interest of the people who love to see the Milky Way Galaxy like never before !

  • how amazing thanks for your

    How amazing! Thank you for you time an work on this an other things you share with us your veiwers.

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  • Vera Lucia Chiaratti

    Eu poderia morrer vendo um céu tão perfeito, que nem ia perceber.

  • Paula

    beautiful to behold…

  • Lavakumar

    Its awesome exprenice regarding this geography n photo shots tat i cant explain u people jus showed me galaxy i think tat i cant c it in my hard n busy life thanx to this geography link hats off to u guyss 🙂

  • Frank Enstein

    This is really nice work, but why did you do this almost EXACTLY the same way Tom Lowe does his work? I mean, why go thru the effort to copy someone else’s style so closely? You even went and found some bristlecone pines? Really? Even the title sequence is a exact copy

    I think you basically just ripped off another artist. Not cool.

  • Vani Naomi

    Are these images real? Does the sky really looks like that there, to the naked eye? Or only with a special camera?

  • محمد

    كل الكواكب والنجوم والشمس والارض تدور حول الثقب الاسود والصور التي تعرضها ناشيونال جيو جرافيك وهي صوره تعبر عن جزء من مجره درب التبانه وهذه الصوره يبين لنا مجموعه من الكواكب والنجوم الذي يدور حول الثقب الاسود وهذا الثقب الاسود العملاق يبلع الكواكب والنجوم ومجموعتنا الشمسيه ببطئ وسوف يبلع الارض قرييبا ….. وربنا يسترها … وأشكر جميع أعضاء العاملين في هذا القناه الراااائعه المفيده وانا أتعلمت من هذا القناه أشياء كثيره جدا وأ شكركم جزيل الشكر ….. والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

  • […] an intelligent commentary visit National Geographic.  Never stop exploring.  Oh wait!  North Face already said […]

  • Mona

    I would love to see him do some shooting of the auroras in the UP of Michigan. When the “dancing” would begin, I would wake my children, bundle them up and we would lay on the lawn and watch. As young as they were, my children, would be perfectly still just staring at the beautiful colors and movement above us. It’s one of the things I miss most about living up there.

  • […] Shot in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Utah and Colorado during the months of June, September and October 2011, the video is made up of multiple long-exposure photographs painstakingly combined into seamless footage.… […]


    incredible how FILM gives life to something we take for granted on a daily basis…this piece of film is just breathtaking!! recommend a good sound system and a sizeable flat screen..

  • John Ellis

    An absolutely stunning bit of video photography, the milky way’s gas clouds so clear too!
    Breathtaking – I think is the word I’m looking for here.
    Thank you.

  • Teresa Jacoby

    Luckily I live far enough out in the countryside that the air is clean and the stars in their multitude are this beautiful each night. It’s a treat and a true blessing to enjoy!

  • Andrea Bartolucci

    bellissimo, emozionante

  • juan manuel tenorio

    Enorme, sobrecogedor, hoy algo tenía que ser bonito.

  • jc

    uhhhh , where do i buy a camera that can pick up the light from the stars at night ? none of mine seem to do i cant see anything.

  • Abner Adan

    Really Amazing, Never Experience This in our country.

  • eduardo

    H E R M O S O …

  • amine lemdani

    all we are is dust in the wind : only remain the holy face of GOD ! wouaou amazing !!!

  • carlo

    wOw awesome i like this

  • Linda say

    I also want to see it

  • Juan Manuel Perez Hernandez

    Veracruz México

    amazing and touching



  • Linda say

    just say wow..thaks for share your video 🙂

  • Karina

    I gonna sleep now so happy cause this make me forget all my troubles,thank you =]



  • Noraini

    Awesome! Wish I was there to see it..Thanks for sharing

  • Noraini

    Awesome..would love to see one…thanks for sharing!!

  • Maura Salazar

    WOW!! Beautiful view, and it is FREE THAKS GOD! Excellent Video and Music! thank you for sharing ;o)

  • paul

    only way to say it simply stunning

  • Symon

    A very inspiring piece. I never noticed before how the stars move across the sky. I’ve only ever noticed the moon. Its fascinating to see the planet float in space.

  • Jonathan

    The bands at the opening are most likely airglow, the 558 nm green line and the 630 nm red line. NLCs are a possibility, but less likely. It is possible to narrow it down. NLCs only occur between mid-June and early August. Although they form in waves if such waves are active in the mesosphere, generally the colors are more rainbow-like. This was really gorgeous, and I complement the photographer and all who worked with him on this.

  • hafsa


  • Patti

    I am not able to watch the video without signing up for the Vimeo service. Did anyone else have this problem?

  • Shirley Smith

    Very captivating, Jan/Feb SD Magazine of the Night Sky in the Dakota’s

  • pam dasilva

    bravo… <3 it!

  • jessica retrepo

    Es hermoso, la majestuosidad del universo……

  • Jon Adkin

    Awesome – just awesome – well done!

  • megan nessia secuya

    beAtifUL ^_^
    AmAzing . its’ jUst LikE wHen iM dReAminG 🙂
    i LikE it sO mUCH ! <3

  • Francisca

    Hermoso video y música!!!! gracias por compartirlo!!!

  • Cellmate

    Amazing! Very beautiful and breathtaking! Thanks for sharing!

  • edroche

    woww this is amazing not fake from god~

  • Cellmate

    Amazing! Very beautiful and breathtaking! Thanks for sharing!)

  • marilena

    Simplesmente lindo, parabéns, como é lindo o universo.

  • marilena

    Parabéns fotógrafo Randy Halverson

  • alessandra camisasso

    AMAZING !!!!!! Thank you!

  • Robin

    amazing, so beautiful takes my breath away

  • thanaa


  • Naira

    Magical 🙂

  • usman

    Amazing ………….. really amazing . . i love you god .

  • Dollard Cheret

    Many thanks to Randy and Bear! this was simply breathtaking!

  • Ariel Urra

    Fue hermoso!



  • Liah

    Subhannallah… Thanks for sharing this is too beautiful…

  • Fernando A.

    Muito bem feito cara esse video podia publicar mais desses videos gosei muito.

  • vysakh

    amazing capture..
    well appreciated..
    and just had a doubt , with DSLR can we capture all those amazing parts of galaxy..
    any ways hats off! for your painstakingly effort.

  • Soheila Jafari

    This is amazing Randy . I watched it at least 10 times at same time and any time I amazed more and more such a good job . congratulation Randy

  • Gaston Rioux

    Comme je me sens quand j’observe le ciel la nuit seul sous les étoiles ..A faire rêver …
    Like I feel when alone I watch the night sky under stars..
    It calls me a dream…

  • Carlos Maciel

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!! Impressive!!!!!!!!!

  • Dyah

    Great nature and great job

  • Behnaz

    I don’t know much about astronomy and stuff like that, but I really enjoyed the video, specially the northern lights, they were AMAZING! thx for sharing this;-)

  • Hanna

    It’s wonderful!! The music, the footage, the colors…
    Simple and true, fascinating and overwhelming!
    An amazing artwork!! Love it!

  • Pamela Walton

    All I can say is we live in such a awesome place called Earth. WE need to take the time to enjoy our planet!

  • Iraj MAFI

    This is Stunning and Breathtaking !!! I watched it only 36 times!
    Thanks for sharing RANDY

  • Filip

    This is how sky looks like in my dreams. Serbia is a small country and the concentration of cities is too heavy. Ergo, the light pollution is killing the night sky…

  • Jiefei WANG

    I can’t say a word more than extraordinary~ even I have watched many scientific videos before but I’m still mouved by this one

  • Rocket Johnson

    Breathtaking time lapse sky views. Love them! Great work fellas. Keep it up and keep sharing. Namaste!

  • Riana

    A big thank you for sharing! It ‘s surreal and so peaceful to watch. Great Job!

  • Riana

    A BIG thanks for sharing this video. So surreal and peaceful to watch! Good on you! Great work!

  • duyen

    Awesome! Thank you for sharing. our planet earth is so beautiful 🙂

  • ralph pimentel


  • Pamela Rios

    Amazing!!! Excellent job!!! All applause to the creators of this video. You guys showcased how wonderful nature is, the beauty of creation, perfectly designed for our enjoyment and appreciation.

  • sunil avachat

    Music is too good as the film.

  • Russell

    I disagree with Frank Enstein, United States, February 16, 1:18 pm. I don’t think it is an exact ripped off. I’ll admit it looks similar as any time lapse video of the night sky would look, but the music and feel of this video is much more relaxed. And it focuses on the sky more and on foreground objects less.

    Would you say Rembrandt ripped off da Vinci?

  • Snigdha


  • s davod imdad

    Amazing what is created for all to stand in awe and enjoy

  • s davod imdad

    I have seen few times deep in the winter mostly end of JAN-FEB.just a few years back. Its Just Amazing

  • Keith Haley

    Miss seing the stars like that, especially the Milky Way Galaxy looking into the arms. Wished we didn’t had so much lite pollution. Very good video.

  • Iraj Mafi

    This is really amazing. Never seen before a photogrophic experience like this. Thanks Randy for sharing this video.

  • Rich

    To see seven great time lapse video of planet earth, the aurora, mountains of Spain, Astronomical Clock of Prague and much more go to;

  • jackie tacey

    I only wish I was laying on the ground looking up at this amazing view

  • Monika Klewe

    awesome, this is great, fantastic thanks for all the good pics

  • Iraj

    It’s so beautiful ! Thanks for sharing this video

  • Liliana

    Amazing, so beautiful.. i want to watch this again and again

  • mark.garter

    I was looking thru some videos and my daughter had told me about something thats makes you want to go home…the most beautiful by so far. we thank you!

  • denverrifiume

    I’m newbie and a new user in this forum, but I hope to help and be helped by others. 🙂

  • Kevin Crosby

    Truly amazing! How can I get a copy of this video?

  • shelly

    Absolutely beautiful! Like diamonds in the sky,Lucy…..

  • Michele Iannone

    non avevo mai visto la via lattea ed il cielo stellato in una maniera così chiara ed in movimento.
    Me lo potevo immaginare solo col pensiero ed ora grazie a “National Geographic” ho potuto godere, stando comodamente seduto alla mia poltrona !!!
    Grazie di cuore !!!

  • Luca Mladen

    this is amazing…

  • seanne amber

    i really love God’s creation…:)….:D

  • […] spangle of stars visible over lovely locales (for instance, in the high Chilean desert, the northern U.S. West, and the mountains of La Palma, in the Spanish Canary […]

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