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Putting Things in Perspective | To Scale: a Time-lapse Model of the Solar System

By Lauchlan Toal on September 22nd 2015

Space – the final frontier. Nothing is more humbling than the vastness of the cosmos, and few things are as beautiful either. Who hasn’t spent hours staring at the stars as they wink at us from unfathomably far away? Some of you may even remember having been riveted by the race to the moon while younger folks like myself are instead amazed by videos from the ISS and extraterrestrial rovers. And as photographers, I think we’ve all taken more than a couple photos of the moon.

[REWIND: Landscapes from Earth Show the Beauty of Space]

The fact is, we love space. But until now, it’s been incredibly hard to visualize just how vast that dark void is. Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh, along with a team of friends, have tackled this problem in a video published just last week. Building a massive scale model of the solar system in the desert, they manage to provide perspective in a spectacular way. Check out the video below for 7 minutes of science meets cinematography.

I reached out to Wylie and Alex, two people as friendly as they are talented. According to Wylie, the biggest challenge of this project was the race against time – and light. With only 36 hours to complete the set and create the time-lapse, the team was hard pressed to have everything prepared before the sun rose again. How poetically apt that the motion of the Earth around the sun proved to be the greatest obstacle to mimicking that very same thing!

Alex also shared the equipment used for the footage. The video was mostly from a Canon 5D Mark III, with the 5D II used for some of the time-lapse. They also had a few small cameras, like an iPhone 6, GoPro, and Canon S110. Alex says that these point and shoots were used by his friends to capture footage while he was working on other scenes, and I think that’s a brilliant idea. I’m sure that with the proliferation of inexpensive and easy to use video cameras, we’ll see a lot more variation in B-roll footage as videographers are able to harness the power of a few friends.

A short BTS/making-of video was also created by the pair, so if you’re interested in seeing more about how they managed to pull this stunt off, enjoy the video below.


Looking to do your own time-lapse? Be sure to enter our giveaway here:

Syrp Genie Mini Giveaway | An Ultra Portable Time-Lapse Device

CREDITS: All videos by Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Lauchlan Toal is a food photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When not playing with his dinner, he can be found chasing bugs, shooting sports, or otherwise having fun with photography. You can follow his work online, or hunt him down on the blogs and forums that he frequents.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Felix Wu

    Wow…this is amazing. Just wow. Thank you for making effort to create this great video. It’s just incredible!

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  2. Brad Harberts

    I showed this video to my fifth graders. It was incredible! Thank you for taking the time and money to put this amazing presentation together. It gave them a great perspective! Man I am so excited about this. Thank you.

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      Glad to hear! Wylie and Alex definitely did a great job on the video, making it interesting and accessible to most anyone. It’s fantastic that you were able to bring it into an educational setting and hopefully encourage young minds to be curious about our universe and the science behind it.

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  3. Kishore Sawh

    very nice, very cool, very worth my time. Good one L

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  4. Richard Olender

    I think his math is wrong.
    The earth is 93 million miles from the sun
    The sun is 1.3 million miles in diameter
    Therefor the distance from the earth is 71.5 times the diameter of the sun

    So if the sun is 1.5 meters in diameter
    The earth would be 107 meters away, not 178

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    • Colin Woods

      The sun is 1.4 million km in diameter which gives about 0.9 million miles so they are probably about right. Its a great video, the big surprise is how big the jump from Mars to Jupiter is.

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    • Richard Olender

      Yup you are right

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  5. Brandon Dewey

    That was very well done. I loved the morning video showing the sun to scale.

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  6. Colin Woods

    Excellent, though I am sad that poor demoted Pluto was left out.

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