Aurora in real time

Finally, a video of aurora that isn’t speeded up by today’s craze for time-lapse.  For two nights in the early 80’s aurora swept far enough south to be overhead in central Maine (very rare; usually they’re on the northern horizon at best), and we were entranced by their visual Majavishnu dance.  Slower than water in a stream and faster than clouds overhead, the rippling motion of aurora hit a real sweet spot for lifting viewers into an extended state of wonder.  While of course video in a 500-pixel-wide portion of a screen can’t replicate this wonder, you can get a faint taste of it from this show in Canada’s Northwest Territories. 

And check this out: the same footage with comparisons in real-time and time-lapse.  As he explains, while real-time captures the actual feeling of the motion, that 30fps shutter speed dims the colors, while time-lapse sequences come closer to presenting the color as seen by the eye, at least for bright aurora.

Note, though, that many time-lapse videos of the night sky, using a series of still shots at wide aperture, clearly exaggerate the brightness, as compared to human vision; virtually all of the gorgeous milky way time-lapses do this to a fairly dramatic degree, as do some videos of fainter aurora.  Real time video, by contrast, will, if anything, under-represent the brightness of the night sky.

About Jim

Night sky watcher; a mobile bit of earth's body. One foot lingering in Lower Cañoncito's piñon-juniper foothills at the southern tip of the Rockies, the edge of the Great Plains stretching away from the mouth of our little valley a couple miles downstream. The other foot re-rooting into the Land of the White Pines, home of my blood and bones, amidst the coastal plain and glacial hills and ponds of southern Maine, between the North Atlantic and the bones of the ancient Appalachian Mountains.

Posted on 2014/09/20, in Earth, Sky. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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