Constellations from the World

Video title: Constellations from the World
Author: Stephanie Ye Ziyi
Country: China, Nanjing

This video tries to cover a huge variety of phenomena in the night sky from different locations — Iceland and China — and is designed like a theatre play, starring mother nature herself.

It starts with a blue twilight sky that dims and unveils the starry night sky on the stage with terrestrial clouds on a beautiful landscape. The impressive parts of the southern Milky Way between Scorpius and Crux, with the pointer stars Alpha and Beta Centaurus, are shown passing by majestically. The terrestrial clouds blur the stars and allow us to recognise their colours even more clearly.

The first act presents the starry sky in human culture. One scene shows the Pleiades rising over the top of a hill, while a human moves hastily with a flashlight below. At the very moment that the Pleiades rises behind the hill, the beam of the flashlight hits the camera. There is some humour in this remarkable scene referencing the human relationship to the rise of the Pleiades in cultural history.

The next scene shows The Big Dipper, Ursa Major, as a typical northern constellation, with an arch of aurora below it. The aurora evolves and moves but does not change much fundamentally. In northern human cultures, aurorae were often interpreted as the ghosts of ancestors, but this play does not spend any time on human beliefs, instead moving the view southwards in the subsequent scenes. First we see some stars rising shortly before sunrise. The lightcone of Zodiacal light appears in Gemini/Taurus and the horizon gets brighter. In the next scene, at about 1 minute and 13 seconds, we see Orion setting over water, so that the water surface mirrors the celestial scene. Some clouds crossing the image prove that the videos were really taken on our beautiful planet, and, since Orion’s shoulder and foot are seen to set almost simultaneously, this sequence must have been captured almost at the equator. In this area, the bright stars of Orion look like a huge butterfly, with Orion’s Belt forming the body, and the quadrilateral of four bright stars interpreted as the wings.

As in a real theatre, we now see a curtain before the next act of the heavenly play, an aurora curtain. The next act presents several bright stars in original scenes: the Chinese asterisms of The Tail (of the Azure Dragon), the Winnowing Basket and the Southern Dipper, which are seen in the modern constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. The striking shape of Corona Borealis that has been recognised as an asterism in many cultures all over the globe, is also shown, as are some planets, the stars Vega and Deneb with adjacent areas, Altair, the Milky Way, and the characteristic W shape of Cassiopeia that has also been an asterism for many cultures on Earth.

The outro presents two more scenes with a smooth and silent night sky.

Also see video in Zenodo:


Stephanie Ye Ziyi/IAU OAE

About the Video

Release date:
15 December 2022, 12:00
Related announcements:
02 m 35 s
Frame rate:
25 fps

About the Object