Stunning time-lapse video of the stars, mountaintop in Spain (video)

I really love this super-time-lapse videos/series of photos that people do. You’ve seen them – where they’re able to capture the Milky Way moving behind their subject. Just tremendous.

I’ve googled without much luck to see how they do this – meaning, how long of a setting do you need on a camera to be able to actually see the Milky Way. Or is it more a question of being in the right location, where you can see the Milky Way anyway, so that a 30 second exposure is guaranteed to capture it well?

Regardless, my search continues. But I do love these videos, and will be posting more of them as we move ahead.


This video is from atop El Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, and apparently an excellent spot to stargaze. The description of the video is below the video itself.

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide.

Spain´s highest mountain @(3718m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.

The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.

A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April ( and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes.

Interestingly enough my camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the milky way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making it look like golden clouds. The Milky Way was shining through the clouds, making the stars sparkle in an interesting way. So if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.

Available in Digital Cinema 4k.

Music by my friend: Ludovico Einaudi – “Nuvole bianche” with permission.
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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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23 Responses to “Stunning time-lapse video of the stars, mountaintop in Spain (video)”

  1. Alectocles says:

    So what if it formed differently? And Pluto and Eris have eccentric orbits,too. So what?

  2. Alectocles says:

    How many tiny little red and white dwarf stars do we have to find before we decide that they shouldn’t be called stars? They haven’t found anything bigger than 2000 kilometers in diameter beyond Neptune except Pluto and Eris anyway. Just blow off the IAU on that subject.

  3. LanceThruster says:


  4. Monoceros Forth says:

    I guess there might be some value in trying to distinguish between planetary satellites that condensed from the original protoplanetary disc swirling about the planet during its formation and satellites that were captured later…I’m not sure, though. It seems to be widely accepted, for example, that Neptune’s chief satellite, Triton, was captured after Neptune’s formation. Yet it is a large and well-organized body. We could label it as some sort of honorary moon, the same way that Pluto and Ceres and other bodies have been made honorary planets, but is that entirely fair?

    You could decide upon some sort of limit based on size or on mass or on whether the satellite is large enough to be in hydrostatic equilibrium. Yet these limits seem arbitrary as well. Take the example of Saturn’s weirdest satellite, Hyperion. It is a small, irregular body yet it’s pretty certain that it isn’t a captured satellite even though it’s a just a loose aggregation of rubble like many asteroids are.

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  6. Ninong says:

    Yeah, I know, they’re counting just about anything they can see with their telescopes or orbiting spacecraft cameras as a moon. Even the two well known Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are actually captured asteroids, aren’t very large. Phobos is 13.8 miles in diameter and Deimos is only 7.8 miles. Larry Ellison owns a Hawaiian island, Lanai, that is 18 miles across!

  7. BeccaM says:

    Having grown up in an solar system of 9 (and maybe, just maybe 10 planets), I didn’t like the demotion either.

    But then came the problem that if Pluto is a planet, Charon probably is, too. And then they began finding all kinds of Kuiper Belt objects of similar size and with equally eccentric orbits.

    In a way, it’s looking more and more like we have to give up these hard categories because too many objects violate the standards. For instance, how many rocks large and small do we have to find orbiting the gas giants before accepting that most of them shouldn’t be called ‘moons’?

  8. BeccaM says:

    Well, the plain fact is if, after eyes have adjusted to the sky, you can’t see the Milky Way on your own, the camera isn’t going to get anything either.

    Light pollution is a serious hindrance for sky-gazers — and one of the reasons we’re glad now to have a mountain range between us and the city.

  9. OH WOW

  10. Ha! Where you live, honey, not where I live! I’ve never been able to get anything other than nice stars in a 30 second photo. In New Mexico, I suspect you fare better ;)

  11. Ooh thanks!

  12. Ninong says:

    Ceres is really an asteroid in the asteroid belt even if it represents possibly 1/3 the mass of all the other asteroids combined. However, my biggest problem with considering Pluto a planet is that it just doesn’t seem like a planet to me. It’s just a chunk of ice from the Kuiper belt.

    I really don’t know enough to comment about the rule that a planet must clear its neighborhood. Maybe they adopted that one just so they could declassify Pluto? Now that Pluto is a minor planet, the next thing somebody will ask the IAU to define is what constitutes a minor planet binary system.

    I just learned today that we apparently have a 3-mile-wide asteroid that is locked in Earth orbit for at least the next 5,000 years. That probably makes it a satellite of Earth. What about the two tiny moons of Mars? They appear to be nothing more than captured chunks of rock. Should they even be considered moons or merely just some minor satellite classification? It’s getting to the point where Jupiter and Saturn between them probably have more than 50 or 60 moons. Maybe we need a minimum definition for moon?

  13. Monoceros Forth says:

    But, you see, that’s just the sort of old-fashioned thinking I’m complaining about. Ceres got demoted from planet to asteroid largely because there was this not entirely rational belief that one and only one large object should occupy its designated place in the Titius-Bode sequence. When it turned out that multiple objects occupied roughly the same slot in the sequence is when it was decided that really Ceres wasn’t a planet at all.

    Much the same mystical belief, I daresay, underlies the desire to demote Pluto, this odd and really not quite rational desire to assign one planet to one place in the solar hierarchy. Not according to the Titius-Bode Law–now we know that was a purely accidental relation–but according at least to some idea that one and only one planet should occupy one space in the solar neighborhood. So somehow it’s bad that a putative planet should share its solar neighborhood with other objects–I’m not sure why that’s bad, mind you.

  14. Ninong says:

    The problem I have with the idea that Pluto should be a planet is that it’s really a Kuiper-belt object and not a planet formed the way the eight major Solar System planets formed. Now we’re discovering other dwarf planets that are larger and more massive than Pluto.

    Pluto is a big snowball, mostly ice and rock that is only 1/6 the mass of Earth’s Moon. Eris is considerably more massive than Pluto and we’re likely to keep on discovering other dwarf planets in the years to come. Of course, I guess the argument could be made that all of them should be classified as planets.
    I just thought it was about the right time to reclassify Pluto as a minor planet.

  15. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’ve never liked the demotion of Pluto. It’s an object of significant size–that is to say, large enough to be in hydrostatic equilibrium and therefore round–in orbit around the Sun. The notion of “clearing the neighborhood” that was introduced later seems to me, quite honestly, to be a weird holdover from the days of the Titius-Bode Law–the belief that somehow there’s a designated slot for a planetary orbit that one and only one body should inhabit.

  16. Ninong says:

    After I posted my reply, I double-checked the current IAU definition of “planet” and “satellite” and I don’t think it’s very likely that the IAU will agree with NASA’s and the ESA’s designation of Earth-Moon as a double planet.

    The Moon is quite large relative to the size of the planet it orbits but it’s still a satellite based on the IAU’s current definitions of both words. I believe it was the ESA that started this notion of Earth-Moon as a double planet rather than a planet with satellite.

  17. Monoceros Forth says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure what that’s about. There seems to a be a kind of mania for designing planetary moons as sort of honorary planets if they’re large enough.

  18. Betty McG says:

    Absolutely beautiful! His facebook page is open to see without logging in. He does talk about the equipment he uses. May 2, 2011 he has a photo of his setup. Auto tracker and shutter, wide-angle lens. Any area around observatories tends to be very dark sky and it is amazing what can be seen even with your eyes. Set up the camera, set focus, set the timer for the shutter and let it run. Some of the video had the camera moving position but it didn’t look like telescope tracking. I haven’t kept up with photography equipment innovations. The camera-lens-tracking equipment is not inexpensive. Telescopes are used for deep-sky and planetary photography. I didn’t see any shots that would have needed a telescope. A friend of mine uses iOptron SkyTracker

  19. Ninong says:

    Interesting to see that NASA’s JPL has joined ESA in adopting the double planet designation for Earth-Moon.

  20. BeccaM says:

    The answer depends on the equipment you’re using, but given a decent fast lens, wide open aperature (f/2.8 ideally), set the ISO to 3200, camera on a solid tripod — you’re talking about a 20 second exposure. Give or take 5 seconds. A bit longer if using less than ideal equipment or if the sky isn’t good.

  21. Monoceros Forth says:

    Speaking of astrophotography, by the way, NASA recently released this stunning composite of images of Saturn taken back in July by the Cassini spacecraft. taking advantage of the Sun’s being concealed behind the planet to take hundreds of photographs of the planet and its rings backlit by scattered sunlight.

    It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. You can see the Earth in the image, as well as Venus and Mars, as starlike points. A few of Saturn’s moons are also visible and, if you look carefully, you can see the faint shadow cast by the moon Enceladus on the diffuse “E Ring” of ice and dust particles that originates from the moon itself.

  22. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’m not sure how it’s done either. When I was fooling around with SLR photography many years ago, even with the fastest lens I could easily get for my cheapie Minolta (f/1.7 I think it was) and black-and-white ISO 3200 film, I couldn’t get good photos of the night sky. A dedicated Schmidt camera, a special sort of telescope with a large spherical mirror of extremely short focal length and a thin glass lens in front of it to correct for spherical aberration, is one way to get wide-angle shots of the night sky, but that’s rather specialized and expensive equipment.

  23. Ninong says:

    I love his photography:!/TSOPhotography

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