How we see the universe is defined by where we're standing, and that can create some fundamental misconceptions about the cosmos. Case in point: this time-lapse video that reminds us it isn't the stars that are moving...it's the Earth itself.
This particular clip was created from a larger time-lapse video that we featured last week. A NASA astronomer explains what we're looking at here:
Most time lapse videos of the night sky show the stars and sky moving above a steady Earth. Here, however, the frames have been digitally rotated so that it is the stars that stay (approximately) steady, and the Earth that moves beneath them. The video dramatically shows the actual rotation of the Earth, called diurnal motion, in a clear and moving way, as if the camera were floating free in space.
The telescopes featured in the video are the Very Large Telescopes (VLT) in Chile, a group of four of the largest optical telescopes deployed anywhere in the world. A discerning observer of the above time lapse movie may also note the use of laser guide stars, zodiacal light, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and fast-moving, sunlight-reflecting, Earth-orbiting satellites.