Time lapse video ‘Ancients’ reveals the awesome splendor of our night sky


For anyone who lives in or near a big city, the views in this video are probably quite ... alien. Due to light pollution, there's just no way for us to get anything close to this kind of show out of our night sky.

To get the spectacular shots that went into the video, filmmaker Nicholas Buer went to northern Chile, to the San Pedro de Atacama region, which is one of the driest places on Earth. Far away from any major sources of light pollution and with extremely low humidity, the air is crystal clear, granting anyone there an unobstructed view of the cosmos. For this reason, the European Southern Observatory is located in this same region, using some of the largest telescopes in the world to explore the universe around us.

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The title of this film — Ancients — is very appropriate, since this is the view the ancient northern Chileans would have been treated to every night, with no possibility of light pollution (there is still some, even in that remote region) or jets flying by to spoil the view.

We do have a chance to return to this kind of spectacle in our skies, though, and it wouldn't even require us to shut off all our technology. The International Dark-Sky Association is a non-profit organization trying to "preserve the night", by conserving dark sky areas but also through trying to change how we light up our outdoor spaces. In addition to giving us a better view of the night sky, the added benefits of these changes is that they will actually consume less energy and thus cost us less over time. It really is a win-win situation, but we have to actually do something about it for anything to change.

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