Time-lapse film captures a year of sky

One of the many jewels in San Francisco’s crown is the Exploratorium, a hands-on museum where creativity and science collide in ever more imaginative ways. And among the imaginative projects the museum has backed recently is artist-programmer-musician Ken Murphy’s film, A History of the Sky.

Murphy, an Exploratorium artist in residence, is creating a time-lapse film of the sky for an entire year. Last July 28, he placed an old 4-megapixel Canon camera with a wide-angle lens on the roof of the museum and hooked it up to a computer. Since then, he’s recorded a photo of the sky every 10 seconds. The camera will stay atop the museum until July 28 this year.

To make the film, Murphy assembles each 24-hour collection of images into a six-minute movie at 24 frames per second. Eventually, he will collect each day-long movie into a projected grid of 365 movies—an entire year of the sky!

For Murphy the programmer, it’s been a real DIY science project. “I’ve learned a lot out of necessity,” he says, “such as building enclosures that can stand up to the elements and how to keep a camera running 24 hours a day, every day, all year.”

The video at the top of this post covers 42 days. On Murphy’s project site, you can also see a 126-day movie and learn how he built his system. Oh, and you can also support this very cool project with a donation.

Murphy is still looking for a home for his piece. “Ideally,” he says, “I’d like to set it up somewhere where the camera can continually capture images and update the display every day, so that it will be an ever-evolving history of recent atmospheric phenomena.”

Go on—do your own impromptu weather study as you watch the gorgeous cloud and wind patterns unfold. You’ve never seen the sky like this before.

Categories: Citizen Science, Climate & Weather, Computers & Technology