A Celestial Arizona Timelapse of the Milky Way

YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ. It may look like your computer hasn’t loaded a particular foreign language. But it is, in fact, the Navajo word for the Milky Way. (Literally: “That which awaits the dawn.”) And it’s the apt title for the following timelapse masterpiece:

The project is the work of Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović, while the former was living as an artist-in-residence at Northern Arizona University. After a few field trips to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, Heffernan felt immediately inspired to do tell a timelapse story of the desert landscape at night.


Heffernan explains that most of the night shots were captured with 25-second-long exposures on a combination of Canon 6D and Canon 5D rigs.


Their lenses had to be wide and fast because of the lack of night light. They happened to choose nights with very little moonlight, making the stars and Milky Way unusually crisp in between clouds.


The clean night sky allowed the artists to experiment with celestial photography, including somecaptures of shooting meteors and patterns in the sky that we mere humans, with our feeble eyes, could never dream of seeing alone.


“The weather was very intense at times, with high winds, frigid temperatures, and stormfronts passing over us, but the locations were absolutely stunning and the clouds parted for long enough to reveal some incredible starscapes, meteors, and the clearest Milky Way I’ve ever seen!” — Gavin Heffernan

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