Video Shows How Stars Will Move Next 1.6 Million Years

A group of professional astronomers from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission created the dream of every Pink Floyd superhero: the animation of stars in the night sky through space, over more than a million years. And, to make things all the more cosmic, the animation shows the stars not how they moved in the past, but how they will do in the future.


Futurism picked up the animation that ESA astronomers recently posted to YouTube. In a poster on ESA’s Gaia website, the group describes how it developed this concise, yet stellar visual model. And, according to astronomers, it is indeed “scientifically correct”, using the correct calculations to assume the trajectory of these stars.

Speaking of which, the animation includes 40,000 stars, at a distance of 100 parsecs from the Sun. (That’s about 3.3 light-years wide.) Although astronomers realize there are far more stars in this section than shown. Meaning that this slice of sky is an even sharper IRL.

Stars traveling through the night sky

Mission ESA Subject

The first frame of the animation shows the current positions of the 40,000 stars in the night sky. Note that the dots vary in brightness according to the actual brightness of the stars they represent.

The following several frames show traces appearing from the locations of the stars. These trails show how the stars will move through the sky for 80,000 years, and give them an arc that viewers can follow. In other words, astronomers have stretched the stars into 80,000-year-old stripes, making it easier to see their motion.

Then the bright dots representing the dots fade, leaving only the traces to follow. The rest of the short animation shows how the stars will move over the next 1.6 million years.

The Gaia astronomers have also published an equally interesting animation of 74,281 stars in the same 100-par section that revolves around the center of our galaxy. In that video above, the animation shows how the stars will orbit through the next 500 million years. By the way – although maybe not ?! – the animation reminds us a lot of this translucent cinnamon roll from the deep sea.