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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Infinity Squared: An Astonishing Video of the Night Sky

By Phil Plait

Ben Canales is an amazing astrophotographer, specializing in time-lapse animations of the night sky (see, for example, this, this, and this).

He recently got his hands on a Canon MH20f-SH: A ridiculously sensitive camera capable of a stunning 4 million ISO! Even at 400,000 ISO it’s able to capture light so faint that it can be used to take passably well-lit video even at night … including the very dark night skies of an Oregon Star Party taken during the 2016 Perseid meteor shower.

Canales followed a score of high school students who went to the star party to experience the sky for themselves, and what he produced out of that night is, simply put, magical. Watch to the very end, and please, listen to what those students are saying.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick what my favorite part of this video is, but this comes close:

… you feel so small, but at the same time you know that there’s so much out there. [struggling for words] It’s… it’s… it’s kinda like unexplainable unless you’re out here yourself, [and] people should come out here and see this for themselves, it’s absolutely incredible.

Oh, I couldn’t agree more. I can wax poetical about the profound beauty of the night sky for a long time, but it’s a pale shadow of what it is to go out there be out there.

I know that 2016 has not been the best year for so many of us, but if you need a bit of joy and awe and the sense that there truly are greater things—and if you are physically capable of it—I urge you to find a dark spot and contemplate the cosmos. You’ll be better for it.

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