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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Beautiful Time-Lapse Earth

By Phil Plait

I will never get tired of time-lapse videos made from all the amazing still photos taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. Hereâs one, called simply âTime-Lapse | Earthâ, thatâs quite lovely and serene:

The video was put together by Bruce W. Berry, Jr., using photos from The Gateway to Astronaut Photography, public-domain pictures hosted by NASA. One of my favorite things to do is try to figure out what part of the Earth Iâm seeing in the clips; sometimes itâs easy, and sometimes itâs not.

One in particular, though, is worth noting. The volcanic plume punching through the cloud layer at the beginning of the video is from the June 12, 2009 eruption of Sarychev, in the Russian Kuril Islands chain to the northeast of Japan. The space station happened to fly almost directly above the volcano when it let loose, so they got quite a few pictures of it. Iâve seen video of it before, but itâs usually just the pictures strung together, so itâs a bit jumpy. Berry stabilized the video, keeping the shot smooth by shifting the frames to a common center, while retaining the motion of the station in the shot. The result is an amazing perspective view of the plume and mushroom cloud that gives a stomach-dropping sense of depth.

In just a few days, on May 13, 2013, Commander Chris Hadfield is set to make a fiery return Earth with two his crewmates Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko in a Soviet capsule. Hadfield has been taking and tweeting phenomenal images of our home planet nearly every day, many of which Iâve featured here on the blog. I hope that future astronauts will continue in the tradition of keeping us flatlanders in thrall with phenomenal pictures of Earth⦠and I hope others continue to create fantastic time-lapse videos from them, too.

Tip oâ the lens cap to my astronomer friend Amanda Bauer. If youâre not following her blog, youâre missing out. 

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