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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Ridiculously awesome photo and time lapse of a stormcloud at twilight

By Phil Plait

I've been following photographer Jeffrey Sullivan on Google+ for a while now -- it's a great place to see the work of talented people, and that's where I found his lunar eclipse sequence I posted here last year.

Jeff is really good, and gets amazing shots of the sky. But today he posted the best shot I've seen from him: this jaw-dropping composite photo of a cumulonimbus cloud spawning lightning below and with star trails above:

Holy. Haleakala.

He shot this during spring 2012 near the California/Nevada border. The mountain getting electrocuted is Bald Mountain, which is southeast of Lake Tahoe. This is actually a combination of a sequence of pictures that were part of a time lapse video he was shooting, which is how he got the star trails as well. In fact, if you've scraped your jaw off the floor by now, time to let it freefall once again while you watch the video:

You can see why he was the Royal Museums of Greenwich Astronomy Photographer of the Year in 2011 for the People and Space category. He tells me he's working on a book on how to shoot landscape photography in California, and that'll be out around the end of the year. I'm looking forward to seeing that!

Image credit: Jeffrey Sullivan, used by permission. Tip o' the lens cap to Russel Bateman on Twitter.

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