Between the high altitude, the dry, cloudless air and the lack of light pollution, the Atacama Desert of northern Chile boasts some of the greatest views of the night sky on Earth. Photographer Nicholas Buer, an amateur astronomer, spent 12 days capturing the beauty of the Atacama’s landscape for a time-lapse video called “Ancients.”
Buer timed his visit to coincide with the autumnal equinox to best capture zodiacal light, a glow of “false dawn” created when sunlight scatters through space dust. In the southern hemisphere, the phenomenon becomes visible in very dark skies, like those of the Atacama, after dusk.
For half of his trip, Buer had no tripods or motion control equipment. “I shot many time-lapses in this film with my cameras on buckets weighted down with rocks,” he explains in the video description. Judging by the end result, his unconventional steadying approach worked out just fine.