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Experience The Night Sky Like Never Before

…with this stunning time-lapse video by photographer Randy Halverson, set to a dramatic score by Bear McCreary. Amazing!

This is four minutes of some of the most breathtaking sky you’ve ever seen. Shot in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Utah and Colorado during the months of June, September and October 2011, the video is made up of multiple long-exposure photographs painstakingly combined into seamless footage, capturing the stars, sky and landscape together in a way that conventional video cameras cannot.

What you are seeing here is an ordered array of literally thousands of 15-30 second exposures shot with professional Canon dSLRs, and given life via the music of composer Bear McCreary.

Randy describes the video on his post on Vimeo:

In the opening “Dakotalapse” title shot, you see bands of red and green moving across the sky. After asking several astronomers, they are possible noctilucent clouds, airglow or faint aurora. I never got a definite answer to what it is. You can also see the red and green bands in other shots.

(Note: these appear to this non-expert to be high-level noctilucent clouds, moving in ripple motion that I have seen before on other low-light time-lapse footage. Noctilucent, or “night-shining”, clouds are created by fine ice particles high in the extremely cold, dry layer of atmosphere called the mesosphere — nearly at the edge of space, 50 to 80 km up. Then again, they could be aurora or airglow… it’s too quick to tell for certain.)

A "persistent train" captured on camera. (© Randy Halverson)

At :53 and 2:17 seconds into the video you see a meteor with a persistent train. Which is ionizing gases, which lasted over a half hour in the camera’s frame. Phil Plait wrote an article about the phenomena here.

There is a second meteor with a much shorter persistent train at 2:51 in the video. This one wasn’t backlit by the moon like the first, and moves out of the frame quickly. Watch for two deer at 1:27.

Most of the video was shot near the White River in central South Dakota during September and October 2011, there are other shots from Arches National Park in Utah, and Canyon of the Ancients area of Colorado during June 2011. The aurora were shot in central South Dakota in September 2011 and near Madison, Wisconsin on October 25, 2011.

I asked Randy why the auroras appear yellow in color in many of the scenes.

“I’m not sure why they were yellow either,” he replied. “They were really far off on the horizon and I was just seeing the top of them. The exposures on those were 30 seconds at ISO 3200, maybe the long exposure did make them that way. I really don’t know.”

Randy also offered this bit of insight:

“One night while we were shooting timelapse, my son and I saw a fireball meteor. I thought it looked like it was maybe 50 miles away. It ended up being right over Fargo, ND, over 300 miles away. So the aurora then were probably at least that far north, if not further.”

Wherever the northern lights were that night, the footage Randy got is nothing short of amazing. Thanks so much to him and to his team for putting this all together and sharing with us!

Visit Randy’s website at www.dakotalapse.com for more amazing time-lapse videos. (There’s also an extended 23-minute version of the above video available here.)

Video © Randy Halverson. Music by Bear McCreary. All rights reserved. Used with permission. See this and more articles about sky and space on my blog LightsInTheDark.com!


  1. […] spangle of stars visible over lovely locales (for instance, in the high Chilean desert, the northern U.S. West, and the mountains of La Palma, in the Spanish Canary […]

  2. seanne amber
    March 3, 2012, 8:59 pm

    i really love God’s creation…:)….:D

  3. Luca Mladen
    Bijeljina , Republic of Srpska
    February 27, 2012, 5:31 am

    this is amazing…

  4. Michele Iannone
    Italy Bari
    February 25, 2012, 9:17 am

    non avevo mai visto la via lattea ed il cielo stellato in una maniera così chiara ed in movimento.
    Me lo potevo immaginare solo col pensiero ed ora grazie a “National Geographic” ho potuto godere, stando comodamente seduto alla mia poltrona !!!
    Grazie di cuore !!!

  5. shelly
    February 25, 2012, 12:05 am

    Absolutely beautiful! Like diamonds in the sky,Lucy…..

  6. Kevin Crosby
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    February 24, 2012, 8:09 am

    Truly amazing! How can I get a copy of this video?

  7. denverrifiume
    February 22, 2012, 10:51 pm

    I’m newbie and a new user in this forum, but I hope to help and be helped by others. 🙂

  8. mark.garter
    Eagle Butte,SD
    February 22, 2012, 1:41 am

    I was looking thru some videos and my daughter had told me about something thats makes you want to go home…the most beautiful by so far. we thank you!

  9. Liliana
    February 21, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Amazing, so beautiful.. i want to watch this again and again

  10. Iraj
    Nancy, France
    February 21, 2012, 11:45 am

    It’s so beautiful ! Thanks for sharing this video

  11. Monika Klewe
    February 20, 2012, 2:32 pm

    awesome, this is great, fantastic thanks for all the good pics

  12. jackie tacey
    United States
    February 20, 2012, 12:20 pm

    I only wish I was laying on the ground looking up at this amazing view

  13. Rich
    February 20, 2012, 10:10 am

    To see seven great time lapse video of planet earth, the aurora, mountains of Spain, Astronomical Clock of Prague and much more go to;

  14. Iraj Mafi
    Lorraine, France
    February 20, 2012, 4:50 am

    This is really amazing. Never seen before a photogrophic experience like this. Thanks Randy for sharing this video.

  15. Keith Haley
    Bellevue, Michigan
    February 20, 2012, 2:51 am

    Miss seing the stars like that, especially the Milky Way Galaxy looking into the arms. Wished we didn’t had so much lite pollution. Very good video.

  16. s davod imdad
    February 20, 2012, 12:01 am

    I have seen few times deep in the winter mostly end of JAN-FEB.just a few years back. Its Just Amazing

  17. s davod imdad
    February 19, 2012, 11:56 pm

    Amazing what is created for all to stand in awe and enjoy

  18. Snigdha
    February 19, 2012, 11:38 pm


  19. Russell
    Stirling, Scotland
    February 19, 2012, 11:35 pm

    I disagree with Frank Enstein, United States, February 16, 1:18 pm. I don’t think it is an exact ripped off. I’ll admit it looks similar as any time lapse video of the night sky would look, but the music and feel of this video is much more relaxed. And it focuses on the sky more and on foreground objects less.

    Would you say Rembrandt ripped off da Vinci?

  20. sunil avachat
    Pune, India
    February 19, 2012, 10:16 pm

    Music is too good as the film.

  21. Pamela Rios
    February 19, 2012, 10:11 pm

    Amazing!!! Excellent job!!! All applause to the creators of this video. You guys showcased how wonderful nature is, the beauty of creation, perfectly designed for our enjoyment and appreciation.

  22. ralph pimentel
    February 19, 2012, 8:27 pm


  23. duyen
    Jitra. Malaysia
    February 19, 2012, 7:47 pm

    Awesome! Thank you for sharing. our planet earth is so beautiful 🙂

  24. Riana
    Brisbane, Australia
    February 19, 2012, 7:06 pm

    A BIG thanks for sharing this video. So surreal and peaceful to watch! Good on you! Great work!

  25. Riana
    Brisbane, Australia
    February 19, 2012, 7:03 pm

    A big thank you for sharing! It ‘s surreal and so peaceful to watch. Great Job!

  26. Rocket Johnson
    Heaven's Gate
    February 19, 2012, 6:43 pm

    Breathtaking time lapse sky views. Love them! Great work fellas. Keep it up and keep sharing. Namaste!

  27. Jiefei WANG
    February 19, 2012, 6:39 pm

    I can’t say a word more than extraordinary~ even I have watched many scientific videos before but I’m still mouved by this one

  28. Filip
    February 19, 2012, 6:22 pm

    This is how sky looks like in my dreams. Serbia is a small country and the concentration of cities is too heavy. Ergo, the light pollution is killing the night sky…

  29. Iraj MAFI
    Nancy FRANCE
    February 19, 2012, 6:00 pm

    This is Stunning and Breathtaking !!! I watched it only 36 times!
    Thanks for sharing RANDY

  30. Pamela Walton
    Southern California
    February 19, 2012, 4:41 pm

    All I can say is we live in such a awesome place called Earth. WE need to take the time to enjoy our planet!

  31. Hanna
    Graz, Austria
    February 19, 2012, 4:40 pm

    It’s wonderful!! The music, the footage, the colors…
    Simple and true, fascinating and overwhelming!
    An amazing artwork!! Love it!

  32. Behnaz
    February 19, 2012, 4:27 pm

    I don’t know much about astronomy and stuff like that, but I really enjoyed the video, specially the northern lights, they were AMAZING! thx for sharing this;-)

  33. Dyah
    February 19, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Great nature and great job

  34. Carlos Maciel
    February 19, 2012, 4:25 pm

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!! Impressive!!!!!!!!!

  35. Gaston Rioux
    Jonquière Québec Canada
    February 19, 2012, 3:45 pm

    Comme je me sens quand j’observe le ciel la nuit seul sous les étoiles ..A faire rêver …
    Like I feel when alone I watch the night sky under stars..
    It calls me a dream…

  36. Soheila Jafari
    Vancouver Canada
    February 19, 2012, 2:57 pm

    This is amazing Randy . I watched it at least 10 times at same time and any time I amazed more and more such a good job . congratulation Randy

  37. vysakh
    February 19, 2012, 2:54 pm

    amazing capture..
    well appreciated..
    and just had a doubt , with DSLR can we capture all those amazing parts of galaxy..
    any ways hats off! for your painstakingly effort.

  38. Fernando A.
    Rio de janeiro, Brasil
    February 19, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Muito bem feito cara esse video podia publicar mais desses videos gosei muito.

  39. Liah
    February 19, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Subhannallah… Thanks for sharing this is too beautiful…

    February 19, 2012, 2:12 pm


  41. Ariel Urra
    February 19, 2012, 2:07 pm

    Fue hermoso!

  42. Dollard Cheret
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    February 19, 2012, 2:03 pm

    Many thanks to Randy and Bear! this was simply breathtaking!

  43. usman
    February 19, 2012, 2:02 pm

    Amazing ………….. really amazing . . i love you god .

  44. Naira
    February 19, 2012, 1:58 pm

    Magical 🙂

  45. thanaa
    February 19, 2012, 1:57 pm


  46. Robin
    The Netherlands
    February 19, 2012, 1:50 pm

    amazing, so beautiful takes my breath away

  47. alessandra camisasso
    corona del mar California
    February 19, 2012, 1:47 pm

    AMAZING !!!!!! Thank you!

  48. marilena
    February 19, 2012, 1:45 pm

    Parabéns fotógrafo Randy Halverson

  49. marilena
    February 19, 2012, 1:43 pm

    Simplesmente lindo, parabéns, como é lindo o universo.

  50. Cellmate
    February 19, 2012, 1:41 pm

    Amazing! Very beautiful and breathtaking! Thanks for sharing!)

  51. edroche
    February 19, 2012, 1:41 pm

    woww this is amazing not fake from god~

  52. Cellmate
    February 19, 2012, 1:40 pm

    Amazing! Very beautiful and breathtaking! Thanks for sharing!

  53. Francisca
    February 18, 2012, 9:44 pm

    Hermoso video y música!!!! gracias por compartirlo!!!

  54. megan nessia secuya
    bacolod city philippines
    February 18, 2012, 2:17 pm

    beAtifUL ^_^
    AmAzing . its’ jUst LikE wHen iM dReAminG 🙂
    i LikE it sO mUCH ! <3

  55. Jon Adkin
    February 17, 2012, 8:07 pm

    Awesome – just awesome – well done!

  56. jessica retrepo
    February 17, 2012, 5:45 pm

    Es hermoso, la majestuosidad del universo……

  57. pam dasilva
    new jersey
    February 17, 2012, 5:42 pm

    bravo… <3 it!

  58. Shirley Smith
    Virginia Beach, VA
    February 17, 2012, 3:47 pm

    Very captivating, Jan/Feb SD Magazine of the Night Sky in the Dakota’s

  59. Patti
    February 17, 2012, 1:43 pm

    I am not able to watch the video without signing up for the Vimeo service. Did anyone else have this problem?

  60. hafsa
    February 17, 2012, 10:44 am


  61. Jonathan
    Puerto Rico
    February 17, 2012, 5:23 am

    The bands at the opening are most likely airglow, the 558 nm green line and the 630 nm red line. NLCs are a possibility, but less likely. It is possible to narrow it down. NLCs only occur between mid-June and early August. Although they form in waves if such waves are active in the mesosphere, generally the colors are more rainbow-like. This was really gorgeous, and I complement the photographer and all who worked with him on this.

  62. Symon
    New Zealand
    February 17, 2012, 12:51 am

    A very inspiring piece. I never noticed before how the stars move across the sky. I’ve only ever noticed the moon. Its fascinating to see the planet float in space.

  63. paul
    February 17, 2012, 12:04 am

    only way to say it simply stunning

  64. Maura Salazar
    Cuernavaca, Morelos
    February 16, 2012, 10:24 pm

    WOW!! Beautiful view, and it is FREE THAKS GOD! Excellent Video and Music! thank you for sharing ;o)

  65. Noraini
    Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia
    February 16, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Awesome..would love to see one…thanks for sharing!!

  66. Noraini
    KL Malaysia
    February 16, 2012, 8:42 pm

    Awesome! Wish I was there to see it..Thanks for sharing

  67. DENNIS
    February 16, 2012, 8:41 pm


  68. Karina
    February 16, 2012, 8:04 pm

    I gonna sleep now so happy cause this make me forget all my troubles,thank you =]

  69. Linda say
    February 16, 2012, 6:32 pm

    just say wow..thaks for share your video 🙂

    February 16, 2012, 6:25 pm


  71. Juan Manuel Perez Hernandez
    February 16, 2012, 6:13 pm

    Veracruz México

    amazing and touching

  72. Linda say
    February 16, 2012, 6:13 pm

    I also want to see it

  73. carlo
    February 16, 2012, 5:24 pm

    wOw awesome i like this

  74. amine lemdani
    algiers algeria
    February 16, 2012, 4:40 pm

    all we are is dust in the wind : only remain the holy face of GOD ! wouaou amazing !!!

  75. eduardo
    February 16, 2012, 3:41 pm

    H E R M O S O …

  76. Abner Adan
    February 16, 2012, 3:19 pm

    Really Amazing, Never Experience This in our country.

  77. jc
    February 16, 2012, 2:59 pm

    uhhhh , where do i buy a camera that can pick up the light from the stars at night ? none of mine seem to do it..so i cant see anything.

  78. juan manuel tenorio
    February 16, 2012, 2:59 pm

    Enorme, sobrecogedor, hoy algo tenía que ser bonito.

  79. Andrea Bartolucci
    February 16, 2012, 2:47 pm

    bellissimo, emozionante

  80. Teresa Jacoby
    United States
    February 16, 2012, 2:39 pm

    Luckily I live far enough out in the countryside that the air is clean and the stars in their multitude are this beautiful each night. It’s a treat and a true blessing to enjoy!

  81. Teresa Jacoby
    United States
    February 16, 2012, 2:39 pm

    Luckily I live far enough out in the countryside that the air is clean and the stars in their multitude are this beautiful each night. It’s a treat and a true blessing to enjoy!

  82. John Ellis
    February 16, 2012, 2:06 pm

    An absolutely stunning bit of video photography, the milky way’s gas clouds so clear too!
    Breathtaking – I think is the word I’m looking for here.
    Thank you.

    February 16, 2012, 1:56 pm

    incredible how FILM gives life to something we take for granted on a daily basis…this piece of film is just breathtaking!! recommend a good sound system and a sizeable flat screen..

  84. […] Shot in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Utah and Colorado during the months of June, September and October 2011, the video is made up of multiple long-exposure photographs painstakingly combined into seamless footage. https://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/&#8230; […]

  85. Mona
    February 16, 2012, 1:49 pm

    I would love to see him do some shooting of the auroras in the UP of Michigan. When the “dancing” would begin, I would wake my children, bundle them up and we would lay on the lawn and watch. As young as they were, my children, would be perfectly still just staring at the beautiful colors and movement above us. It’s one of the things I miss most about living up there.

  86. Temporal Distortion | Hannah Tangerine
    February 16, 2012, 1:26 pm

    […] an intelligent commentary visit National Geographic.  Never stop exploring.  Oh wait!  North Face already said […]

  87. محمد
    السلام عليكم
    February 16, 2012, 1:20 pm

    كل الكواكب والنجوم والشمس والارض تدور حول الثقب الاسود والصور التي تعرضها ناشيونال جيو جرافيك وهي صوره تعبر عن جزء من مجره درب التبانه وهذه الصوره يبين لنا مجموعه من الكواكب والنجوم الذي يدور حول الثقب الاسود وهذا الثقب الاسود العملاق يبلع الكواكب والنجوم ومجموعتنا الشمسيه ببطئ وسوف يبلع الارض قرييبا ….. وربنا يسترها … وأشكر جميع أعضاء العاملين في هذا القناه الراااائعه المفيده وانا أتعلمت من هذا القناه أشياء كثيره جدا وأ شكركم جزيل الشكر ….. والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

  88. Vani Naomi
    February 16, 2012, 1:19 pm

    Are these images real? Does the sky really looks like that there, to the naked eye? Or only with a special camera?

  89. Frank Enstein
    United States
    February 16, 2012, 1:18 pm

    This is really nice work, but why did you do this almost EXACTLY the same way Tom Lowe does his work? I mean, why go thru the effort to copy someone else’s style so closely? You even went and found some bristlecone pines? Really? Even the title sequence is a exact copy

    I think you basically just ripped off another artist. Not cool.


  90. Lavakumar
    February 16, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Its awesome exprenice regarding this geography n photo shots tat i cant explain u people jus showed me galaxy i think tat i cant c it in my hard n busy life thanx to this geography link hats off to u guyss 🙂

  91. Paula
    February 16, 2012, 1:15 pm

    beautiful to behold…

  92. Vera Lucia Chiaratti
    February 16, 2012, 1:14 pm

    Eu poderia morrer vendo um céu tão perfeito, que nem ia perceber.

  93. […] Experience The Night Sky Like Never Before – News Watch. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Vancouver sunset […]

  94. how amazing thanks for your
    February 16, 2012, 1:13 pm

    How amazing! Thank you for you time an work on this an other things you share with us your veiwers.

  95. Alan Chin Weng Lon
    February 16, 2012, 1:11 pm

    This is never seen before photographic experience for the nice sky , could be the best one ever to trigger the interest of the people who love to see the Milky Way Galaxy like never before !

  96. Selim Uygun
    February 16, 2012, 1:04 pm

    O great Lord, I thank goodness..
    Ey büyük rabbim,bütün şükür ve hamdler yanlız sanadır.Peygamberimiz Hz.Muhammed Mustafa’ya(Salllahualeyhivesellem) ve aliine salat ve selam olsun..

  97. Dr Habu Abdul
    February 16, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Absolutely stunning!

  98. Edis Mharga Villahermosa
    February 16, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Awesome, only Elohim can explain about this!

  99. stuart lucas
    nairn,scottish highlands
    February 16, 2012, 12:55 pm

    awesome stuff..

  100. stuart lucas
    nairn,scottish highlands
    February 16, 2012, 12:54 pm

    awesome stuff…

  101. greenplan
    February 16, 2012, 7:09 am

    Really amazing.

  102. regan talbert
    N Carolina
    February 15, 2012, 9:30 am

    The stars around here are just about all gone….I know where they went now