Mesmerizing 4K Time-Lapse of Earth and the Sun

You might think that creating a time-lapse from found images is an easy job. An assumption like this can not be further from the truth. When James Tyrwhitt-Drake compiled images of our planet taken from the Elektro-L weather satellite, he had his work cut out for him. In James’ words: “The images were edited to adjust levels and change the infrared channel from orange to green to show vegetation more naturally.

The images were resized by 50%, misalignments between frames were manually corrected, and image artifacts that occurred when the camera was facing towards the sun were partially corrected. The images were interpolated by a factor of 20 to create a smooth animation.”


James’ hard work resulted in a mesmerizing time-lapse of Earth in 4K resolution from May 15th to May 19th, 2011. As the Elektro-L satellite located 40,000 km above the Indian ocean orbits Earth at a speed that allows it to remain stationary over the same Earth spot, the satellite’s camera captures a 121 megapixel image (11,136 x 11,136 pixels) every 30 minutes with visible and infrared light wavelengths.

The 121 megapixel camera sensor allowed James to render the time-lapse in the Youtube 4K UHD resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 whereas the original animation file had 5,568 x 5,568 resolution.

James also spent time on answering the frequently asked questions as to why the Sun, stars and city lights are not visible on the video. James advises that “City lights are not visible because they are thousands of times less bright than the reflection of sunlight off the Earth. If the camera was sensitive enough to detect city lights, the Earth would be overexposed.

The Sun is not visible due to mechanisms used to protect the camera CCD from direct exposure to sunlight. A circular mask on the CCD ensures that only the Earth is visible. This mask can be seen as pixelation on Earth’s horizon. The mask also excludes stars from view, although they would not be bright enough to be visible to this camera.”

You can watch this amazing 4K time-lapse video of the Earth below.

If you enjoyed seeing Earth from space, I think you might also like James’ extra hot 4K time-lapse of the Sun. Including images from October 14th to October 30th 2014, the time-lapse captures sunspot AR 2191, the largest sunspot of the last 22 years, which is quite impressive to watch.

The video, playing at a rate of 52.5 minutes per second, shows the Sun in the ultraviolet 304 ångström wavelength. To create the video, James used 17,000 images courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams, saved on 72GB of hard-drive space.

Although the video was originally rendered in full 4K it has been resized to 3,840 x 2,160, Youtube’s 4K UHD maximum resolution. The imagery is not the only impressive feature of the Sun video, however. Processed from SOHO HMI data by Alexander G. Kosovichev, the audio track represents the “heartbeat” of the sun.

You can enjoy the 8 minute 4K time-lapse video of the Sun below.

[via PetaPixel]

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