Changing Planet

New Night Sky Timelapse Video: Stars and Storms Vie for Attention

Breathtaking shots of the ground and sky dominate this striking time-lapse video shot in South Dakota and Wyoming between April and October of 2012 by veteran photographer Randy Halverson.

One highlight: the footage shows the Milky Way galaxy’s bright central hub — located more than 30,000 light years away — repeatedly gliding across the frame over many hours as our planet rotates on its axis.  Meanwhile our galaxy’s bright core can be seen clearly transected by a dark rift of gas and dust populating one of its spiral arms between us and the downtown region of the Milky Way.

A lot of patience goes into making these time-lapse works of art, with more than 3 hours of filming needed to get just a 15 second clip of the Milky Way lazily moving through the heavens.

Halverson says his favorite shot is at the 1:15 minute mark of the video when brewing storms clouds and the Milky Way galaxy both vie for attention.

“That went on for hours that night and normally that doesn’t happen,” Halverson explains.  “Storms are hard to shoot at night, because they move relatively fast for night time-lapse.

 Not to be outdone,  a celestial tempest in the form of colorful auroras paint the sky above the Badlands of South Dakota.
“I went there to shoot Milky Way rise, but I got lucky to catch a strong Aurora storm there,” said Halverson.
Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.
Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Judith Ann Plummer

    This beautiful, well put together piece sure makes me feel so a part of what is around me in the things I can see but also what I cannot fathom. Just lovely Randy. Thankyou so much for your excellent work and creativity. Judy

  • Michael Winter

    It was an absolutely fantastic film with excellent supporting music. Well done

  • Bob safety dud

    not often to see the night sky let alone that way.
    so cool so cool

  • Stephanie LaPare

    Brilliant!! I have a great interest in Astronomy. If any one loves the Milky Way then you must check this out.

  • courtney

    What equipment was used to capture this amazing video?

    • Randy Halverson, the photographer, says the following:

      Equipment Used
      Canon 5D Mark III, sometimes with a 2nd from
      Canon 5D Mark II
      Canon 60D

      I used a variety of lenses, many from
      Canon 14, 16-35, 24-70, 50 F1.2, 70-200mm lenses
      Zeiss 21, 25, 35mm lenses
      Nikon 14-24mm with Novoflex Adapter

  • Arjun

    This is AWESOME, almost devine

  • AndRea

    AMAZING video!!! All that I goes around us and can’t see it…

  • Sheri Abear

    I don’t see this at all in the city,just Beautiful,Thank-You for all of your time involved.

  • Peggy

    Just breathtaking to watch, & thank you for your skill & hard work, but – – that music was just awful for an octogenarian!!

  • Ринат

    Красота и ещё раз красота!!! 🙂

  • MIke

    Beautiful, outstanding work. Now how about some credit to the band/musicians who added to this piece? Who are they?

  • Allen Meek

    Excellent video though the extremely poor music choice seriously detracts from the overall effect.


    simplemente impresionante, gracias por permitirnos ver la maravillosa naturaleza y el poder de las estrellas, gracias

  • Aileen Lucero

    Beyond beautiful. Truly breathtaking.

  • jin

    oh!!! very awesome…very and milky way very beautiful..this is the heaven!!!!

  • Vishal Shetty

    Astonishing!! Great work with the cam….. Thank you, for this amazingly creative video…..

  • Kanoe Burgess

    wow just Wow!!

  • Tami


  • Al Tinat

    Excellent work but lousy choice of music. It should have been backed up by something spacy and without any singing-especailly male singers.

  • Hix


    How did you achieve the smooth transition between exposures at dawn and dusk. Did you use hardware bulb ramping or was this done in post production?
    Another query. What roughly would you say is the ideal ratio between shutter time and firing rate for such imagery?

  • Hix

    Forget my first question, a bit of net research churned this up:
    Most shots go from 20-30+ seconds per frame, with three second intervals and run continuous for 3+ hours.

  • Maggie Turner

    Thank you for helping me see and learn something entirely new, and reminding me that we are a small part of a vast universe. For the first time in my longish life, watching the milky way in your video, I could see, and understood how our planet travels and provides life and safety in a vastness, a beautiful vastness. Again, thank you for helping me reach my perceptual potential as a human.

  • Christine Eustaquio

    It is simply breathtaking! Shared it with my friends… wish the music were something more soothing though hahaha, i just turned off the sounds which made the time lapse even more awesome!

  • Jeff L

    This is the first time I have been made to feel as a moving object though space. If this was the ultimate goal, you really nailed it. The counter movement of the foreground is what really does it for me. Also, the depth you achieve in your images is astounding. Bravo.

  • Tricia Horn Kovacevich

    I have been a star gazer since early childhood. Thank you for your time and effort in making this lovely video.

  • Tricia Horn Kovacevich

    I have been a star gazer since early childhood. Thank you for your time and effort in making this lovely video.

  • Shannon Hutcheson

    Really enjoyed watching that! Fantastic shots, just breathtaking. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jennie O

    I can’t stop watching this. Its gorgeous.

  • Wesley Walls

    Amazing. What is the soundtrack? I love it but Shazam couldn’t identify it.

  • Jennie O

    What is the song and who sings it?

  • Clark England

    Great work and beautiful photography. I like the use of foreground with the sky shots. Many people think the sky trails are shooting stars, but at 24 or 30 fps and slow shutter speed, a shooting star would hardly be seen. They are most likely airplane trails.

  • Christian Lozano

    Que hermosura de video pocas veces vemos esto tenemos que salir de la ciudad y si alcanzamos a ver una estrella fugaz nos emocionamos Gracias por el video

  • Robert Kirkpatrick

    Just awesome…God’s creation for all to see.

  • Rob

    How can i get a copy of it?

  • Luis Lopez

    Imagenes fantasticas e increibles, felicidadez por tan exeletnte trabajo. Su amigo: LuisLopez

  • kaushik

    Awesome Video 🙂 what is the name of the song?

  • pradeepkumar

    So much tensions, stresses, complications in every day’s life. Watching this video I forget all the stresses of this mechanical world. I feel again myself close to mother nature. Its rejuvenating… awesome, brilliant! The song is also fantastic. Thanks for posting this Andrew. Gr8 job Randy and kudos to all those who were behind making of this video….

  • Joe

    Fantastic! How did you achieve the camera movement in some of those shots?

  • Michael Monroe

    Hey, it was beautiful. Hope you could go to Hawaii or the bahamas and do some shots. On top of Haleakala on Maui would be awesome. I wish I could use this video as my Facebook cover page, I’d never take it off. Did the camera you use sit on a moving carriage of somekind? Well keep up the good work.

  • AJ

    Wow!! Just absolutely incredible! Love the music too!!

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