Bad Astronomy

Time lapse: The spinning Chilean sky

I do so love time-lapse animations, and this one is particularly nice: it shows four of the ALMA microwave antennas in Chile as they scan the night sky, while the starry vault rotates around them. [Make sure you set the resolution to 720 and make this full screen; it’s really nice.]

The video starts at moonset, and ends with an amazing view of the the vast central bulge and disk of the Milky Way looming over the ‘scopes.You can see the famous Coal Sack dark dust cloud as a circular “hole” in the Milky Way, with Crux, the Southern Cross, right next to it. Just above and to the right (at the lower tip of the elongated dark patch in the Milky Way) is the bright star Alpha Centauri, with Beta Centauri just below it. The European Southern Observatory has posted a similar video showing a different part of the sky, too. These videos are from last summer, but there’s a timeless, enthralling quality to them.

I found this through the tortuous route of a tweet from my friend Lila Mae, then to io9 (who got it from reddit), and then to the ESO. Phew!

Credit: ESO/José Francisco Salgado