Stars, Milky Way captured in stunning time-lapse photos and video

A stormy sky and lack of moon create the perfect condition for dramatic shots of our galaxy.

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The Milky Way over Grand Canyon National Park. Gavin Heffernan/Harun Mehmedinović

Yikáísdáhá.

The word might sound like Klingon (if you could even pronounce it), but it's actually the Navajo word for the Milky Way or "that which awaits the dawn." It's also the name of a new video and photography project by photographers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović.

Heffernan had flown to Flagstaff, Ariz., as an artist in residence at Northern Arizona University, where he taught a seminar about photography -- particularly his work with timelapsing. After the seminar, he headed out to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley Navajo park with his students and Mehmedinović, a former American Film Institute classmate of his and NAU professor.

The team braved threatening weather to get their images, but the results are clearly worth it.

"To my surprise, Flagstaff had 3 inches of snow on it, even in late April," Heffernan told Crave. "Temperatures warmed a little when we went to Monument Valley, but it was still very cold and extremely windy -- a big challenge for night timelapses, as the camera has to stay completely still on tripod for 3-4 hours at a time.

"On the big Monument Milky Way storm setup, we were actually feeling raindrops shortly after we set the cameras up, so it was a tough decision to leave them. But there were patches of clear sky around, so we went for it. As I told one of the students the other day, the first rule of night sky timelapsing is 'never give up!' We also found an area that had a natural wind block from a large earth structure and got really lucky with the skies."

Judging from the pictures they captured and their moody video set to Moby's "A Seated Night (Ambient)," it's really us who got lucky. Don't you think?

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Sci-Tech
About the author

Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for Crave and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.

 

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