Trail’s End: Beautiful New Night-Sky Timelapse by Randy Halverson

Stunning views of the Milky Way, shimmering aurora, spectacular thunderstorms, flashing meteors, zipping satellies, stirring music, and spooky sprites and gravity waves …. they are all part of this wonderful new timelapse by night-sky guru Randy Halverson.

“Trails End is a compilation of some of my favorite timelapse shots from 2014, with a few aurora shots from early this year,” Halverson told us. “It was shot in Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota.”

A few moments to note in the video:

:56 Bolide Meteor
1:01 Aurora at Devils Tower and throughout video
1:33 Two Bolide Meteors
Meteors With Persistent Trains 2:29 very fast and short persistent train to right of the Milky Way, a better one at 3:20
2:43 Final Boost Stage of GSSAP and ANGELS satellites
2:55 Owl sitting in tree
3:00 Pink Aurora in the sand dunes of Wyoming’s Red Desert
3:14 Sprites and Gravity Waves

See more images and details at Randy’s website, dakotalapse.

Photo Shoot Captures Classified Spy Satellite Engine Burn

Remember at the end of “Star Trek: First Contact” when Lily looks up to see the Enterprise enter the temporal vortex with a flash of light? Astrophotographer Randy Halverson captured a view very similar to that scene, albeit without time travel or Vulcans standing nearby.

“On July 28th, 2014, I was set up to shoot the Milky Way near Kennebec, South Dakota,” Halverson wrote on his website. “I had looked through some of the stills but didn’t notice anything unusual. [But] in December 2014 I was editing timelapse and when I got to the July 28th sequence I noticed something different on it. At first I thought it was another meteor with persistent train, but I had missed the meteor in between exposures. I had already caught several meteor with persistent trains on timelapse last year, so I was watching for them. Then I looked closer and noticed the flash was dimming and getting brighter. Also, when I zoomed in I could see a satellite or object right before the first flash.”

Halverson did a quick search of launches during that time and found the Air Force had launched a semi-classified trio of satellites into orbit earlier in the evening of July 28th (23:28 UTC, 7:28 EDT) on a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and further research indicated he had captured the engine burn of one of the satellite’s final boost stage.

Just goes to show, you can never tell what you’ll see when you’re looking up!

See the timelapse below:

On board the Delta IV were two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft and the Autonomous Nanosatellite Guardian for Evaluating Local Space (ANGELS) NanoSatellite. Halverson conferred with a few NASA mission analysts and they all agreed the flash was coming from the ANGELS boost stage firing.

“The first flash you see on the timelapse happened at 1:09am July 29th (camera time) so that also seems to match up with the timing for the final burn the article mentions,” Halverson said.

According to the Spaceflight101 website, the ANGELS nanosatellite is a project of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) and was a secondary payload on Delta IV launched on July 28, 2014. Its purpose was to do a technical demonstration flight several hundred kilometers above the belt of geosynchronous orbit (35,786 kilometers (22,236 miles). The satellite was supposed to “perform an autonomous rendezvous demonstration with the Delta IV upper stage before testing a camera system for the inspection of satellites in high orbits.”

Halverson said he used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Nikon 14-24 lens on an eMotimo TB3 mounted on a Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Dolly.

See more of Randy’s great timelapse and night sky photography work at his website dakotalapse, or Twitter.

Timelapse: Sprites, Gravity Waves and Airglow

Look! Fast! Sprite lightning occurs only at high altitudes above thunderstorms, only last for a thousandth of a second and emit light in the red portion of the visible spectrum, so they are really difficult to see. But one of our favorite astrophotographers and timelapse artists, Randy Halverson captured sprites during a recent thunderstorm in South Dakota. But wait, there’s more!

In his timelapse video, above, you’ll also see some faint aurora as well as green airglow being rippled by gravity waves.

See some imagery from the storm, below:

More sprites with airglow and gravity waves over South Dakota on August 20, 2014. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson.
More sprites with airglow and gravity waves over South Dakota on August 20, 2014. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson.

See more images and information about Randy’s fun night of observing these phenomena on his website, dakotalapse.

Simply Breathtaking Night Sky Timelapse: “Huelux” by Randy Halverson

Regular readers of Universe Today will be well-acquainted with the photography and timelapse work of Randy Halverson. He’s just released his latest timelapse and in a word, it is breathtaking. Aurora, thunderstorms — sometimes both at once — and, of course, stunning views of the night sky.

Randy shot the footage during April-November 2013 in South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. “The weather in 2013 made it difficult for me to get some of the shots I wanted,” Randy said on Vimeo. “There were many times I planned to shoot the Milky Way or Aurora, and the clouds would roll in. But that also allowed me to get more night storm timelapse than I have any other year.”

He added that the aurora sometimes appeared without warning. In the video, be on the lookout for slow and fast moving satellites, quick meteors and slower moving airplanes. “The meteors are hard to see in timelapse, but you may see a quick flash because they only last one frame,” he said. “If you see a light moving across the sky, it is either an airplane or satellite, not a meteor.”

Sit back, put this on full screen and full sound and take a well-deserved break from your day!

Thanks once more to Randy Halverson for continuing to share his handiwork! Find out more about this timelapse at Randy’s website, Dakotalapse.

Huelux from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

“Horizons” — Gorgeous New Views from Dakotalapse

We’ve oohed and ahhed many times over the handiwork of Randy Halverson and his Dakotalapse timelapse videos and imagery of the night sky. He may have outdone himself with his latest timelapse, called “Horizons.” Randy shot the footage from April – October 2012, mostly in South Dakota, but also some at Devils Tower in Wyoming.

“Growing up in South Dakota the landscape itself can be beautiful at times,” Randy says, “but that doesn’t compare to what the sky can do, especially at night.” Not only is the imagery absolutely breathtaking, but the accompanying music is an original called “I Forever” by Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead, Defiance, Battlestar Galactica, etc) his brother Brendan McCreary and his band Young Beautiful in a Hurry.

There’s a four-minute version below, but also available on Vimeo On Demand is a full 30-minute feature . Enjoy!!

The lead image and this one below are recent images from Randy that he has posted on Flickr.

Mirrored Aurora - Aurora mirrors off a small lake in central South Dakota on June 6, 2013. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson/Dakotalapse.
Mirrored Aurora – Aurora mirrors off a small lake in central South Dakota on June 6, 2013. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson/Dakotalapse.

Horizons from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

Lovely Astrophoto: Cottonwoods and the Milky Way

Admittedly, I’m partial to Randy Halverson’s night sky photography from South Dakota. Having grown up in neighboring North Dakota myself, Halverson’s images bring back memories of the dark skies that grace the northern plains. But this one is just stunning, not to mention my early childhood home was surrounded by cottonwood trees — towering giants with ample limbs, and one of the few trees that grew well in the harsh prairies of the Dakotas.

Randy said he was trying out some new gear with this image, which is a frame from a timelapse he is shooting (can’t wait!) He used ased a Canon 6D and a Rokinon 24mm F1.4 lens (set at F2), using Emotimo TB3 Black timelapse equipment, shot at ISO 3200 for 20 seconds.

See more of Randy’s work at his Dakotalapse website, or his Facebook page.

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Stunning New Timelapse: Tempest Milky Way

It’s been a summer of storms across the US, and timelapse photographer Randy Halverson has taken advantage of it! Randy alerted us that he’s just put out a new video following his incredible Plains Milky Way timelapse from earlier this year. His new one is “Tempest Milky Way” which features the storms and skies of the Midwest US. Randy said he wanted to combine “good storm and star shots,” but that the opportunity doesn’t come along very often. “The storm has to be moving the right speed and the lightning can overexpose the long exposures.” But Randy’s photography and editing prowess shines in “Tempest Milky Way.”

A few things to watch: Look for a Whitetail buck (briefly) at the 1:57 mark (“It was caught on 20 frames, and was there for about 10 minutes. It was only 50 yards from the camera, dolly and light,” Randy said.)

At about 2:28 an airplane flies under the oncoming storm.

At the 3:24 mark, a meteor reflects on the water of the small lake. Look for many other meteors in the timelapse, too.

This is a wonderful video, augmented with great music, not to be missed!

See more at Randy’s website DakotaLapse