SkyInspector.co.uk

Astronomy and Sky Website of Martin Lewis

Time-Lapse Videos and Details

Below you will find some YouTube and Vimeo time-lapse videos of the night sky showing the movement of the heavens over many hours compressed into a few seconds or minutes. These time-lapse videos are generally taken with my all-sky camera which has an horizon-to-horizon field of view and whose heart is an colour digital video camera coupled to a wide angle fish-eye zoom lens.

There are some details on the method at the bottom of this page and also a dedicated page about the construction of my all-sky camera on a separate page of my website here.

You can see all my YouTube and Vimeo time-lapse videos here and here, but below is a selection of the ones which I hope you will like best. Videos are in chronological order with most recent first.

5th May 2019 – Llanerchindda Farm 2019

Time-lapse video of night sky at the dark sky site of Llanerchindda Farm, nr. Llandovery, Mid Wales (www.cambrianway.com) on the night of 5th May 2019. ASI174MM mono camera with no IR filter. 2.7mm Fujinon fish-eye lens at f2. 15secs exposure Gain 200. Post processed in PIPP with gain 2.0x and playback speed of 240x. A memorable night with virtually no cloud present at this dark sky site

9th Sept. 2018 – Kelling Heath Star Party

Time-lapse video of the night sky taken on the Sunday night of the 2018 Autumn Equinox Star Party at Kelling Heath campsite in North Norfolk, UK. 
Individual exposures for the time-lapse were taken using the large chipped colour ZWO ASI174MC camera coupled with a Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens operating at f2 and an IR/UV filter to sharpen the star images. The camera was controlled in Firecapture and I used 20sec exposures and a gain of 150 boosting it in PIPP by 5x gain. 
Video is played back at 400x normal speed.

7th Sept. 2018 – Kelling Heath Star Party

Time-lapse video of the night sky taken on the Friday night of the 2018 Autumn Equinox Star Party at Kelling Heath campsite in North Norfolk, UK.

Individual exposures for the time-lapse were taken using the large chipped colour ZWO ASI174MC camera coupled with a Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens operating at f2 and an IR/UV filter to sharpen the star images. The camera was controlled in Firecapture and I used 20sec exposures and a gain of 150 boosting it in PIPP by 5x gain. 
Video is played back at 400x normal speed.

24th Sept. 2017 – Kelling Heath Star Party

Time-lapse video of the night sky taken on the Sun. night of the 2017 Autumn Equinox Star Party at Kelling Heath campsite in North Norfolk, UK. Individual exposures for the time lapse were taken using the large chipped colour ZWO ASI174MC camera coupled with a Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens operating at f2 and an IR/UV filter to sharpen the star images. The camera was controlled in Firecapture and I used 15sec exposures and a gain of 200 boosting it in PIPP by 2x gain. Video is played back at 375x normal speed.

23rd Sept. 2017 – Kelling Heath Star Party

Time-lapse video of the night sky taken on the Sat night of the 2017 Autumn Equinox Star Party at Kelling Heath campsite in North Norfolk, UK. Individual exposures for the time lapse were taken using the large chipped colour ZWO ASI174MC camera coupled with a Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens operating at f2 and an IR/UV filter to sharpen the star images. The camera was controlled in Firecapture and I used 10sec exposures and a gain of 200 boosting it in PIPP by 2.5x gain. Video is played back at 300x normal speed.

2nd Oct. 2016 – Kelling Heath Star Party

Another time-lapse with the set-up used on the video below for 30th Sept., but this one was from the Sunday night (Sat. night wet and windy!).

30th Sept. 2016 – Kelling Heath Star Party

This time-lapse was taken using my larger chipped and larger pixelled ZWO ASI174MM camera, coupled to my Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens, FE185C086HA-1 operating at f2.0. I used an IR filter between lens and camera to help sharpen up the star images. This is probably my highest quality time-lapse video to date

I used 15sec exposures and a gain of 50% (200) in Firecapture. Video is played back at 375x normal speed.

9th April 2016 – Llanerchindda Farm, nr. Llandovery, Mid-Wales

Middle and best night of the West of London AS’s (WOLAS) annual Spring observing trip to Llanerchindda Farm, nr. Llandovery in Mid-Wales. 

Time-lapse with ASI174MM mono camera with no IR filter. 2.7mm Fujinon fish-eye lens at f2. 10secs exposure with gamma at 50% and Gain at 240. Post processed in PIPP with gain 2.0x and playback speed increased to 250x normal speed. ISS pass at 21.17UT.

7th Oct. 2015 – Autumn Sky, St.Albans

The Autumn sky seen from St. Albans on night of 7/8th October 2015. ASI174MC colour camera with IR filter and Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens set to f2. 10secs exposure and gain at 50% (200), recorded in Firecature. Playback speed increased 250x. N on RHS.

See Moon, Venus, Regulus grouping rising in the morning sky followed just before sunrise by Mars and finally Jupiter

27th Sept. 2015 – Time-Lapse of Total Lunar Eclipse

Colour time-lapse of total lunar eclipse seen from home in St. Albans from about 2hrs before onset of the eclipse until dawn breaks. ASI174MC colour camera with IR filter and Fujinon 2.7mm fish-eye lens set to f2. 5secs exposure and gain at 50% (200) Playback speed increased 300x. N on RHS.

Notice rapid darkening after 01:00UT when the eclipse approaches totality as well as later the brightening moon coinciding with approaching dawn and the rise of Venus in the East (top of frame).

12th Sept. 2015 – Kelling Heath Star Party

Another time-lapse with the new set-up from the 2015 Autumn Equinox Star Party at Kelling Heath, this one from the Saturday night. Here I used 12.5ec exposures and a gain of 50%. Gain was boosted to 1.7 and gamma lowered to 0.9 in PIPP on post-processing. Video is again played back at 250x normal speed.

11th Sept. 2015 – Kelling Heath Star Party

This time lapse was taken using a new set-up using my larger chipped and larger pixelled ZWO ASI174MM camera, coupled to a newly purchased second-hand Fujinon 2.7mm f1.8 fish-eye lens, FE185C086HA-1. The improvement in image quality and resolution over previous time-lapse videos is clear to see, with M31 and the Milky Way well seen and even M13 visible.

I used 10sec exposures and a gain of 40%. Gain was boosted to 2.0 in Pipp on post-processing. Video is played back at 250x normal speed.

12th April 2015 – Llanerchindda Farm, Mid-Wales, mono

Third night of the West of London AS (WOLAS) annual observing trip to Llanerchindda Farm, nr. Llandovery in Mid-Wales. A much clearer night than the previous night with little cloud.  Battery powering camera and laptop failed at  just after midnight so unfortunately no summer starts or Milky Way overhead but an amazing number of stars anyway and a reflection of the quality of the skies at the site

  • ASI120MM mono camera with no IR filter
  • Arecont 1.55mm f2 fish-eye lens
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 14secs
  • Recorded in Firecapture with gain 50 and gamma 50%
  • Post processed in PIPP with gain of 1.7 and gamma of 1.3
  • 25 fps to give 350x normal rate
  • ISS pass at ~21.35UT

Above is a star trail image generated in the freeware StarStax program from the all-sky video above and showing meteors, ISS and plane trails for the period 21-13UT to 23-31UT.

11th April 2015 – Llanerchindda Farm, Mid-Wales, mono

Second night of the West of London AS (WOLAS) annual observing trip to Llanerchindda Farm, nr. Llandovery in Mid-Wales. Clear spells amongst intermittent low cloud allows some fabulous views of the spring sky.

  • ASI120MM mono camera with no IR filter
  • Arecont 1.55mm f2 fish-eye lens
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 10secs
  • Recorded in Firecapture with gain 60 and gamma 50%
  • Post processed in PIPP with gain of 1.2 and gamma of 1.3
  • 25 fps to give 250x normal rate
  • ISS pass at 20.20UT

16th Jan. 2015 – St.Albans Winter Sky mono

As 29th Dec. but with lower gain to reduce noise and 8sec exposure rather than 4secs. Also effective playback speed doubled.

  • ASI120MM mono camera with no IR filter
  • Arecont 1.55mm f2 IR corrected lens
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 8secs
  • Gain 40% and Gamma 50%
  • 60 fps to give 480x normal rate
  • ISS pass overhead just before sunrise

29th Dec. 2014 – St.Albans Night Sky Colour

Above is a time-lapse video from 29th/30th Dec. 2014 taken from my back garden in St Albans, UK, after changing over from my previous Fujinon 1.4-3.1mm zoom lens to a new Arecont 1.55mm, f2, IR corrected lens (as used used in the Starlight Express Occulus AllSky camera). The new lens gives much improved star images especially at low altitude and gives a larger (4.8mm diameter) image circle which the 1/3″ chip just copes with. Settings were;

  • ASI120MC colour camera with IR filter
  • Arecont 1.55mm f2 IR corrected lens
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 8secs
  • Gain 50% and Gamma 50%
  • 60 fps to give 480x normal rate

Notice the significant drop in sky brightness at around midnight when Hertfordshire turns off many of its residential streetlights.

28th Dec. 2014 – St.Albans Night Sky Mono

As 29th Dec. but this was the previous night and used a mono ASI120MM camera with the new Arecont 1.55mm f2 IR corrected lens for the first time. The absence of the colour filter matrix on the chip and the absence of any IR filter allowed shorter exposure times to be used but as many stars to be seen as for the colour set-up.

  • ASI120MM mono camera with no IR filter
  • Arecont 1.55mm f2 IR corrected lens
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 4secs
  • Gain 50% and Gamma 50%
  • 60 fps to give 240x normal rate
     

28th/29th Sept. 2014 – Kelling Heath Star Party, N.Norfolk – Sunday night

This time-lapse video was taken at the 2014 Autumn Equinox Star Party held at Kelling Heath campsite in N. Norfolk, UK. Settings were

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • Polaris on RHS
  • Interval/exposure time 10secs
  • Gain 75% and Gamma 50%
  • 40 fps to give approx. 400x normal rate
  • Processed in PIPP with 1.2gain to boost brightness
     

 27th/28th Sept. 2014 – Kelling Heath Star Party, N.Norfolk – Saturday night

Settings as for 28th/29th

26th/27th Sept. 2014 – Kelling Heath Star Party, N.Norfolk – Friday night

Settings as for 28th/29th

4th Aug. 2014 – Porthmadog, North Wales 

Time-lapse video of the night sky taken from the dark skies of North Wales whilst on holiday just outside Porthmadog.

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • 8sec exposure at gain of 60% and gamma of 50. 
  • Post processing done in PIPP including gain boost of 1.5x. 60fps to give 480x normal speed
  • Note the fireball at 23:08:18UT

6th/7th Oct. 2013 – Kelling Heath Star Party, N.Norfolk – Sunday night

This time-lapse video was taken at the Autumn Equinox Star Party held at Kelling Heath campsite in N. Norfolk, UK. This video shows two clear periods – an evening one and an early morning one. Unfortunately the laptop attached to the camera powered off for a 3hr period in the middle although it was clear during that time. Settings were;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • Polaris at 4 o’clock position on RHS
  • Interval time 8secs
  • Gain 75% and Gamma 50%
  • 40 fps to give approx. 320x normal rate

5th/6th Oct. 2013 – Kelling Heath Star Party, N.Norfolk- Saturday Night 

This time-lapse video was taken at the Autumn Equinox Star Party held at Kelling Heath campsite in N. Norfolk, UK. This video shows the sky from early evening until sunrise and shows two clear periods with good transparency – an evening one and an early morning one with a carpet of low cloud in between the two session. Settings used were;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • Polaris on RHS
  • Interval time 8secs
  • Gain 75% and Gamma 50%
  • 40 fps to give approx. 320x normal rate

2nd Sept. 2013 – St.Albans

Above is a time-lapse video from 2nd Sept 2013 taken from my back garden in St Albans, UK. Settings are;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time ~5secs
  • Auto-exposure
  • Gain 75% and Gamma 50%
  • 60 fps to give approx. 300x normal rate

Look out for a good sporadic meteor at 02:40:54UT. If you missed it the meteor frame is here;

12th Aug. 2013 – Cornwall

Above is a time-lapse video from 12th August 2013 taken from the dark skies of Porthleven in Cornwall, UK. Settings are;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 10secs
  • Gain 75% and Gamma 50%
  • 25 fps to give 250x normal rate

Look out for meteors at 22:58UT and 23:49UT, a nice overhead ISS pass at 23:02. Also see boats moving around out to see on left hand horizon. The flash at the start is an annoying car with headlights full on.

6th Aug. 2013 – St.Albans

Above is a time-lapse video from 6th August 2013 taken from my back garden in St Albans, UK. Settings are;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 5secs
  • Gain 75% and Gamma 0%
  • 60 fps to give 300x normal rate

Look out for great cloud patterns and movement as well as an ISS pass at 22:06:07UT

1st Aug. 2013 – St.Albans

Above is a time-lapse video from 1st August 2013 taken from my back garden in St Albans, UK. Settings are;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • North on RHS
  • Interval time and exposure 5secs
  • Gain 50% and Gamma 50%
  • 25 fps to give 125x normal rate

Look out for a meteor at 23:31:34 as well as ISS passes at 02:08:53UT and 00:32UT. Notice the significant drop in sky brightness at around 23:00UT when Hertfordshire turns off many streetlights at midnight (=24hr BST).

19th July 2013- St.Albans

Above is a time-lapse video from 19th July 2013 taken from my back garden in St Albans, UK. Settings are;

  • Camera ASI120MC operated in Firecapture with Fujinon YV2.2X1.4A-2 f1.4 1.4-3.1mm fl set at ~1.55mm
  • North at bottom
  • Interval time and exposure 8secs
  • Gain 50% and Gamma 50%
  • 25 fps to give 200x normal rate

Look out for a meteor at 01:37:59UT and also the shadow cast by the gibbous moon creeping across the houses on the right hand side in the early hours.

Camera and Method for Time-Lapse Night Sky Videos

There is a dedicated page about the construction of my all-sky camera here but key features of the camera/lens and the methods used to create the videos are given below;

Camera/lens

I use the following ZWO CMOS colour/mono digital cameras at the heart of my All-Sky cameras. You can read more about these camera in my equipment section page on cameras.

  • ASI120MC (colour) & ASI120MM (mono). These are 1/3″ chip cameras with 1280×960 pixels where each pixel is 3.75um across I have a colour version (MC) and a more sensitive mono version (MM). The camera has a very sensitive 1/3″ diagonal CMOS chip which is 1280 by 960 pixels. 
  • ASI174MC (colour) & ASI174MM (mono). These camera have a much larger chip than the ASI120’s with a chip 11.34mm x  7.13mm which is 1936×1216 pixels. Pixels are significantly larger at 5.86um across which reduces shot noise considerably.

I use the following different fish eye lenses on the above cameras;

  • ASI120’s= Arecont 1.55mm f2 IR corrected CS-lens & Rainbow L163VCS f1.4 lens 1.6-3.4mm zoom lens
  • ASI174’s= Fujinon FE185C086HA-1 2.7mm F1.8 5Mpixel lens

Method

  • Frames are gathered on my laptop using the excellent Firecapture program which, with the above camera, gives the following great features;
  • Ability to set a dark frame which is subtracted from each frame to reduce trouble from hot pixels – essential for long exposures used in some of these time-lapse videos
  • Ability to automatically set a hot-pixel map to further reduce hot pixel issue
  • Interval timer if you want the interval between shots to be longer than the exposure
  • Auto-exposure setting to accommodate skies of varying brightness- more useful for day/night time-lapses (see this example taken on holiday in Cornwall)
  • Timestamp for at top left hand corner giving UT of each frame

I collect my frames in mono to reduce the file size using Firecapture to save the video in the extended avi ULRG format which is a lossless compression format. These videos are debayered (converted back into colour) using Chris Gary’s invaluable PIPP program and here I can set the final frame rate and save in a compressed format (mp4).