Alien-Hunting SETI Telescopes Boogie in Spectacular 'Dishdance' Video

A stunning new time-lapse video shows off the tireless movement of radio astronomy facilities used to search for aliens across the universe.

Telescope dishes swivel and clouds and stars rush by in the video, which is called "Dishdance" and was produced in part to help document the effects of light pollution. The video focuses on SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and facilities either currently or previously used by that organization. The time lapse is a part of the Skyglow project, a campaign to raise awareness of light pollution helmed by the astrophotographers Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan. You can view the new video here.

SKYGLOW: DISHDANCE from Sunchaser Pictures on Vimeo.

Facilities featured in the video include the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array near Socorro, New Mexico; Owens Valley Radio Observatory in Owens Valley, California; and Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

"The large radio telescope at Green Bank is where scientists first attempted to 'listen' to [the] presence of extraterrestrials in the galaxy," the team wrote in the video's description.

A meteor streaks above one of the antennas of the Very Large Array near Socorro, New Mexico. The image was captured as part of the Skyglow project, to raise awareness about light pollution. (Image credit: Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic)

"Very Large Array was featured in the movie 'Contact' (1997), while Owens Observatory was featured in 'The Arrival' (1996)," they added. "The huge meteorite streaking across the sky above Very Large Array (2:40) is from the Aquarids meteor shower."

The Skyglow project by Heffernan and Mehmedinovic had a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, and crowdfunding continues on

So far, the project has raised more than $75,000 to create an astrophotography book and time-lapse video "exploring North America's starscapes and the growing threat of light pollution," the website states.

Clouds loom on the horizon amid a starry sky above the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. This and other images were obtained as part of the Skyglow project, which discusses light pollution. (Image credit: Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic)

If backers bring the total up to $100,000 by February 2016, the team plans to print 2,000 additional books to give to schoolchildren and organizations in light-polluted areas of North America.

That stretch goal is important, the group wrote on its website, "so the youth of today can see the magic of the night skies and the need to protect them for all future generations."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: