Categories: AstrophotosVideos

Stunning Death Valley ‘Dreamlapse’

Here’s yet another gorgeous timelapse from Gavin Heffernan and his team. As we previewed in our Geminid Meteor Shower post, the Sunchaser Pictures team trekked to the world-famous Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park to search for some of the darkest skies on Earth during the meteor shower peak on the night of December 13th, 2012. They braved a long journey, a tough climb cold temperatures.

“But it was all worth it when the skies cleared and showed us an incredible galactic palette!” Gavin writes on Vimeo.

In addition to Geminids, there are star trails, planets and a weird spiraling object at about 1:30-1:35. It makes three broad circular sweeps over the desert – although in timelapse it appears to be moving fast, but the 5 seconds of time in timelapse equals about 50 minutes, so it’s actually not moving all that fast. It can also be seen cutting through the circular star trails picture below. There’s another 25-second exposure that of the object moving that makes it look almost like a colored rope.

“I don’t think that ‘rope’ look is unusual for a normal plane etc.,” Gavin told Universe Today via email. “The circular motion, and very slow movement are what really make it interesting/unusual. It’s definitely worth noting that the site is definitely near some kind of military installation or air force base, because we saw the spectacular sight of F-16 fighter planes zooming over the dunes, not too far off the ground. I know for sure it wasn’t a helicopter, because we would have heard it.”

Shots from the timelapse:

Star trails from 'Death Valley Dreamlapse.
A 25 second exposure of an object flying through the field of view. Credit: Gavin Heffernan/Sunchaser Pictures.

DEATH VALLEY DREAMLAPSE from Sunchaser Pictures on Vimeo.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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